Saturday, February 8, 2014

The joy of modern means of communication

We already had plans to go check out the river this afternoon, but right about 1:30 I saw that someone had emailed PA Birds about a Glaucous Gull visible from the John Wright boat launch in Wrightsville.  The hunt was on!

Now, I have been down to the river multiple times in the last week or so, and there's usually hundreds if not thousands of gulls present, so I figured I would have to be very lucky to be able to pick out the single slightly different one.  

I was right - we scanned the river and saw many many Herring and Ring-Billed Gulls, and about a dozen Greater Black-Backed.  But no Glaucous.  Another birder arrived, she had seen the email, too.  She also told us that she recognized the cars of the people who first reported the bird.  They had to be in a nearby restaurant, having lunch.  We waited a while for them to emerge, to no avail, so decided to head down to the next boat launch to the south.  

We were just wrapping up there when I got a phone call.  The lunching birders had re-emerged and had found the Glaucous Gull again.  Turns out the lady who we had met told the lunching birders about us, and one of them recognized my name and still had my phone number from a few years ago, when I met her through some peregrine falcon sightings I made in York city.  Whew!

We hopped back up to John Wright and were able to get distant but nice looks.  The Glaucous was hanging out on some rocks with a few Greater Black-Backed Gulls.  Greater Black-Backed Gulls are the largest gulls in the world, and as you can see, the Glaucous is very nearly as large as they are.  Its size alone made it pretty obviously different from the other non-black-backed gulls on the river.  This one is a juvenile, an adult would have a light gray mantle and would lack any black in the wings.

Some good luck and a nice set of coincidences turns out to net me one more life bird for 2014!

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