Monday, December 31, 2012

Gull page pic updates

Updates to my picasa gull pages:

Does anyone go here? I feel like it gets a lot less attention that back when I had them on my website... Anyways...

6 pics (uppderside) of 3 different juv LBBG"s from late sept in Hamilton... (I was too lazy to do all-encompassing photo shoots, cause I could hardly tell which bird was which)

2nd basic at Port Stanley on oct 9, 2012

Juv at Port Stanley on oct 9, 2012

And since all of these pics are just too close for comfort, here's a terrible set of pics of a Herring X G Black-backed gull hybrid

That Port Stanley place sure is a fun one for gulls - but too bad it isn't really worth the drive most of the time.. A few pics of the scenery:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Niagara River on Dec 27, 12

My last hurrah of birding in 2012?!

Here's what I had...

First stop: Adam Beck #1.. .

it was slooow ... and a lot of birds were on the Canadian side making viewing tough... Had 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (ad, 3rd winter) - which seemed insane. Jim Pawlicki has trained them all to sit on Goat Island in NY, so seeing two here was unusual these days..

Had several Kumlien's Gulls, but little else of note at all...

When an adult Great BB Gull arrived, I couldn't handle all the dark mantles around so I left...

Roosting Rocks - picked up an adult Thayer's-type gull on the rocks.. Maybe one I saw at Adam Beck 5 days earlier... Not perfect, but I'll take it...

Decent numbers roosting, but not much else other than a few Kumlien's Gulls..

I scanned the 25ish Bonaparte's feeding on the river and picked out an adult Little Gull, which was very nice and kinda surprising.

Whirlpool - slowwww ... Scanned the 50-100 Bonapartes at least twice before I left..

Control Gates #1 -  a 3rd winter Lesser Black-back on the wall was the limit of the action... Visibility wasn't great so I couldn't see very far.

Above the falls #1 -  A few Kumlien's, a Lesser BB Gull, yada yada yada... The water was sooper low. Lots of ducks around including several American Wigeon and a female Pintail... Not sure why, but I just couldn't turn up the birds!

Below the falls - picked up my 9th gull species on the day with a juv Glaucous in the gorge. Not much turnover from 5 days ago when I again had 2 Common Loons, Black Scoter, Cormorants etc etc etc ... I'm not sure when I'll finally find an alcid down there, but it sure wasn't this day...

Above the falls #2 - picked out an adult glaucous gull on the way back, and a new Lesser BB gull... By this point (mid aft) the gulls were returning from their inland feeding (landfills)...

Control gates #2 - no news on the gull front here... I don't think I had a hybrid all day! (What is the world coming to?) But I did have some passerines. While I was scanning, I thought I could hear some kinglets... After working the flock - I turned up several Golden-crowns, along with one Ruby-crowned, a Winter Wren, a Brown Creeper - and the usual RB Nut, Downy Wood and  Chickadees. Not a bad haul.

I skipped the roosting rocks on the way back. I usually park in the butterfly centre parking lot, but they were expecting me to pay? wtheck is that?

Adam Beck # 2 - it felt like a lot of the same gulls were around as the first time... Incl the 2 LBBG's.

What I did have, was the same gull I had here back on Dec 22, except this time I had some good prolonged views of it sitting with other gulls.. Here's a mix of pics from Dec 22 and Dec 27:

Bird in Juv plumage. Picked out due to the brown wing tips (not as dark as our Herring Gulls)

Then in flight, it shows a striking Thayer's Gull like wing pattern as well.. 

(white arrow) - Yet it has sort of a messy pattern to the head/neck that I don't really see on Thayer's, and is a pretty sizable bird... 

(Middle) - Unfortunately at Adam beck, good pics aren't an option... But I think I did a decent job of capturing most features... 

Now this is where I'm going to lose just about everyone, but it's actually a pretty fine candidate for juvenile Slaty-backed Gull... Honest ;) .. .I usually enjoy toying with the idea of identifying birds that many don't think is possible.. But it is a really solid candidate and I'm going to keep researching!

I've uploaded more pics here:

I can honestly say I firmly believe it is not a Herring Gull, and see virtually nothing that convinces me that the appearance is due to Glaucous influence.. 

Thayer's Gull is the species I have a hard time eliminating... 

Slaty-backed could maybe fit the mold, but I have no experience with them

And maybe a bird with Glaucous-winged influence needs to be explored, but again, I don't see much to make me think that, but have no experience with them... 

Will update more if I find anything.. Bird seems to like Adam Beck, so maybe it'll stick?


One interesting thing of note with my research is that young SBGU seem to potentially be MORE variable than our young Herring Gulls, so it is almost impossible to find several photos of birds that look somewhat similar... But anyways, here's a few that I found from Japan that are pretty close to the above bird:

Last photo on the above page

Several pics of a similar bird

Top two pics on this page, although the date doesn't match very well (Oct 15 vs late Dec) 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gull page pics - updates! + cacklers!

Updates to the Little Gull page:

All pics from the zodiac (waay offshore) on Sep 27, 12

Was seen with this Sabine's Gull 

And just for hoots and giggles, I added a few pics of the Sabine's to the SAGU page!

(yes its the same pic) 

I even updated the Cackling Goose page:

some pics of 4 total birds at Port Burwell back on Oct 9, 12
 ... blog - identifying Cackling Geese since before it was cool... 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Epic condo birding update

You know it's going to be a good day of condo-birding when a Peregrine is loafing out your window pre-dawn... 

Haw-daym! Had another fantastic day of lakewatching ... And is it surprising? Well, kinda.. Cause I'm sitting in my warm office when I see the birds...

But at the same time, mother nature has been handing out epic low pressure like it's lunch! We've had 3 major systems pass through since Dec 15th, and at least 4-5 other weaker low pressure systems pass through since mid December on top of that.. It's actually a pretty extreme streak ...

LOTS of east winds to go along with it.. Good old North Atlantic Oscillation is POSITIVE for the first time in a while... Remember last winter when we didn't have east winds for months? We're getting the opposite now, and this the kind of weather I like :)

Anyways below is the ebird link to my entire day of lakewatching from the condo:


Dec 26, 2012 7:45 AM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Dad and Mom helped in the afternoon
23 species

Canada Goose 72
American Black Duck 5
Mallard 34
Canvasback 1
Greater Scaup 261
Lesser Scaup 4
Surf Scoter 22
White-winged Scoter 103
Black Scoter 2
Long-tailed Duck 266
Bufflehead 1
Common Goldeneye 114
Common Merganser 165
Red-breasted Merganser 29
Pacific Loon 1 extremely good looks at 8:41am directly with Common Loon. Report to be sent to OBRC
Common Loon 1
Black-legged Kittiwake 2 2 juv's together at 957am
Ring-billed Gull 148
Herring Gull 275
Glaucous Gull 2 first winter and second winter birds
Great Black-backed Gull 47
Rock Pigeon 1
Peregrine Falcon 1 adult female from the lift bridge pair

View this checklist online at


Obviously Pacific Loon is new for the patch list, but so is Canvasback! Giving me 50 species... Still need to go outside and get goodies like Cardinal.. 

Here's my post to hambirds to explain the loon:

Just had a Pacific Loon fly east past Green Rd. in very close proximity to a Common Loon, maybe 100ft up and only a few hundred meters offshore. I have toyed with the thought of ID'ing a Pacific Loon in flight in the past, although this was one of those exciting moments in birding where the situation is ideal and the features were blatantly obvious, even in flight. The overall size of the body/head/neck etc was less than half that of its Common companion.

I guess the odds of relocating the bird would be very slim, but wanted to get the word out and let people know that things are happening on this very strong NE wind (50kmh+)

Good birding and happy holidays!


A darn good day... A darn good day indeed... 

A pic of the Kittiwakes taken from my office... 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

c-c-c-condo birding updateeee

Dec 18 --- Hardly watched, but I did pick up a first winter (juv) Nelson's Gull  ! early. It was a beauty too.. Kinda like this bird, but with darker wings and tail, and a bit sharper looking overall:

Then I got word that my condo birding pal George Holland had two SWALLOWS fly past while I was down in the exercise room. Second time this December he's done that. A-well, can't win them all!

Dec 20th - east winds again! Had a lot of those indicator species moving in the morning ... Although I didn't get toooo much... Highlights:

Common Loon

King Eider - !!!! The adult Male again. Picked it out in flight with some RB Mergies. Landed with some Goldeneye. Seems to like these two species a lot. Anywhoo... It floated offshore for a while and was a REAL beauty to see for an extended period.

Peregrine Falcon - the adult female shot past my window (on 40-50kmh winds) about 5 feet away and startled me. Sa-weet!

Not sure what else. Some good movement for so late in the year (MALL, ABDU, COME, GRSC etc). But yea. Not exactly the insanity of Dec 15 (under similar conditions), but days like that don't happen very often in the bird world..

From the storm. 2 Great B Backs. Pics aren't too bad (for blog quality only) from inside the condo!

Dec 21 - An abnormal number of Common Goldeneye were present for the day. Maybe 600-800 birds? And 90% adult males? crazy. 

Dec 23 - watched passively on SW winds and was rewarded as such, with very little of note. Got a text from Kentucky that the ad male King Eider was present, but I didn't see it. No worries, as hopefully it spends the winter!  Mid day 3 balloons floated out into the lake and scared the sh!t out of the ducks... Like major panic educing waves of ducks dispersing around the lake.. Kinda funny.. 

Lots of gulls moving as well, but no notables. Still waiting on the expected Glauc. 

Dec 24 - I got the Glauc!!! Sitting at my desk mid-morning when I noticed an awfully white gull flying along the shore, maybe 100ft up... 2nd winter Glaucous! Species #48 for the patch in month #1 ... I just sort of expected Glauc as a typical Nov/Dec bird on Lake Ontario, and it was a beauty (very white 2nd winter). Now I need a new species to "watch for" ... Any idears??

Actual glauc pic from in the condo! (on a terrible angle through 3 panes of glass, but worth it). 


I actually managed to update the overall list of species and get it online. You can check it out on my "patch page":

More goodies await! Amazingly I've yet to actually walk around outside in my patch, so once I finally get to that, there should be a decent boost in numbers (Chickadee, Blue Jays, Cardinal etc!)... The whole list is pretty much from inside on the 17th floor.... Kind of fun, but for sure my goal is a broader area (eg,/ outside too) just to keep myself entertained and learning more about the birds "near home", how they behave, favourite spots etc!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gull page update pics!

Below is some pre-written garbage that I did weeks ago! (Are you excited?)

I can add some birding news - parents and I had an Eastern Phoebe in Burlington (near woodland cemetery  in the afternoon of Dec 24th!!

Was pretty cool to see. Picking bugs off a house. Landed on a hammock... sa-weet!

Anyways here's the junk:


Way back in the day (Oct 15th, 2012) my Dad and I spent the afternoon searching Lake Erie for goodies (remember that 50 days of rare thing?)... What did we get? Some ugly gulls...

Seemed a bit odd with a cold slaty mantle tone (I often think of them as a warmer gray than other dark mantled gulls) 

First up is 4 photos of a Lesser Black-backed Gull!! I think something funny goes on with LBBGs, because their ages always seem kinda messed up to me... This bird seems really advanced for a 3rd basic... Maybe it's actually a 4th basic that's well behind in plumage advancement??  Either way, I photographed it, and put the pics on the Lesser Black-backed Gull page...

Also - Seemed a bit odd with a cold slaty mantle tone (I often think of them as a warmer gray than other dark mantled gulls) 

Anyways here's the page:


I really thought we had something good this time, as the mantle shade in teh field was spot-on for California Gull... But instead it raised its ugly head to reveal a 3rd winter Herring X Lesser Black-backed hybrid... 

(the head/bill pattern is what gives it away as a LBBG hybrid)... 


Who knew, that when I was getting tired of ugly gulls back in Mid October that Superstorm Sandy was only 2 weeks away !!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Niagara River - Dec 22

Got to the river on the 22nd - had the urge to do some extended gull study, and I did just that... I also photographed all 8 species of gulls I saw (plus 1 of 2 hybrids). So I'll add a sprinkle of pics throughout.

I wanted some large ugly gulls, with the only rarities in mind being Slaty-backed or Glaucous-winged Gulls.. Anyways here's what I saw:

This counts as my pic for Bonaparte's and Ring-billed. The river was very active all day. 

Adam Beck early- got there at 9am... The Nelson's Gull (juv) was sitting in the same spot as a few weeks earlier. It is a real beauty, and I finally managed a crappy pic (see below).

Had at least 2, probably 3 Thayer's. 2 adults for sure. 1 juv gull was U-G-L-Y, and pretty much the highlight of my day. I'll post more about it later.

Also turned up several Kumlien's, including one very white bird (pic added) - a 3rd winter. No Glaucous or surprisingly NO Lesser BB's to be seen. For some reason, every god dawm Lesser sits on Goat Island on the US side now...

Final highlight was a 1st winter HEGU with trauma fault baring. Things were really active, until some unknown force freaked out the gulls 3-4 times and a good number of them left. Onwards!

Only GBBG pic on the day

HEGU with trauma baring 

Very white 3rd winter "Kumlien's"?? Gull - Didn't look great for glaucoides, although in my limited visits in 2012 - I've seen an abnormal number of very white "Iceland Gulls"

Pic of the beauty Nelson's. It's so sweet, it could even be a Glaucous-winged X Glaucous hybrid, but it'll never tell.. Seems to REALLY like that spot. 

Whirlpool - I decided to do the Whirlpool going south, then the roosting rocks later in the aft when I came back... I stood in the wind looking at Bonaparte's for 5-10 minutes before I forgot that small gulls on the river are boring. SO I left

Above the falls - I like to do a long check above/below the falls. It's my fav. thing to do on the river. I park at Dufferin Island and walk from the control gates, down to the gorge, and back to the control gates before back to the car. I even got to hand-feed a Tufted Titmouse this time, and that was AWESOME (Also got some pics, but will update later). Anywhoo

--- Saw 10+ Lesser BB's on Goat Island again. Buggers... Also 2 Glaucous Gulls over there.. Why can't they come to our side??? 

An adult Herring X Great Black-backed Gull was on the wall on our side. Probably the same freakin bird as every visit I've had there since 2009. There was also a very nice 3rd winter Thayer's Gull on the wall (pics). 

Above the falls was very busy with ton's-o'bonaparte's but no Little's or Black-headed (none all day). Picked out more LBBG's and a few Kumlien's, but generally lackluster given the number of birds. Had a hybrid like thing that could have been a Lesser BB X Herring but I couldn't confirm. 

3rd winter Thayer's Gull 

Below the falls: No gulls of note, and not even that many. Boo... Although for the first time in a while, I was really impressed with the land of missfit waterbirds that the gorge can often attract. Some noteworthies:

2 Common Loons
1 Horned Grebe
2 Coots
20ish Wigeon
1 Black Scoter
1 Hooded Merg
2 Red-breasted Mergs
sev Common Mergs
10ish Double-crested Corms, 

among some of the other regulars. always fun. will find an alcid here someday. 

Back above the falls: More Glaucous Gulls and stuff had arrived, as birds roost here in the evenings. I really like staying here at dusk, but it was waay too early, so I traveled onwards. 

Glauc pic for the day

Roosting Rocks - I learned my lesson at the whirlpool and decided that I would be bored with pretty and small gulls here.. I wanted UGLY, so I skipped it and went back to Adam Beck

Adam Beck late - I think it was getting too nice (too much sun, wind dying down), so activity was lower. Still managed a juv Lesser Black-backed Gull, more Kumlien's, the same Nelson's etc etc

First Winter Yellow-legged Lesser Black-backed Gull at Adam Beck

I had been on the river for a solid 5.5 hours and was getting hungry. I thought about Queenston, but decided against it. Best thing to do was to head home and relax! Which is exactly what I did. Maybe if we ever get some decent winter weather, there will be more gull fun to be had?! 

Adult Thayer's from Adam Beck in the morning. All 8 species photographed and shown here! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012 ... blog ... QUIZ MASTER! Quiz of disaster.. .

Identify all of the birds in each photo for a bit of fun! Leave a comment, or just do it yourself. No cheating.. Actually go ahead and cheat.. Cheat all you want.. There is no prizes. This quiz is no fun..

Actually it's as much fun as you make it! (aw yeah)

These quizzes always come about when I think a picture is funny or unusual, but have no use for it...