Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday field trip, and the week's birds

Don't know why, it just seemed like a good day to get to the coast. Lynn and I spent the better part of an hour at the mouth of the Oyster River at lunchtime, searching the flock of Bonaparte's Gulls for the one Black-headed Gull which had been seen off and on yesterday. Within a few minutes of arriving, Lynn picked out one that was different than the others - or so we thought. The flock was feeding and preening and would occasionally spook, wheeling away in unison. Sometimes they flew down the beach out of sight before returning and settling on the mudflats again.

When they returned we searched and searched and did not see that "different" bird again, finally convincing ourselves that we really had not seen the Black-headed Gull in the first place.
- it should be a larger bird, 16 inches long vs 13.5 for the Bonaparte's, actually closer to the size of a Ring-billed Gull (at 17.5 inches)
- it should be completely white at the back of the neck, where the Bonaparte's shows a shadow of gray, and should appear paler gray on the mantle and back in general than the Bonaparte's

Anyway, it's always good to get out birding, even if you don't find your target bird! I had never seen a large flock of Bonaparte's Gulls - we estimated about 150 birds.

This week's West Campus (and coastal) birds:
Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis (and coast)
Brant, Branta bernicla
Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator
Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus
Herring Gull, Larus argentatus (and coast)
Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis (and coast)
Bonaparte's Gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus
Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
Rock Pigeon, Columba livia (and coast)
Monk Parakeet, Myopsitta monachus
Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow, Corvus ossifragus
Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata
American Robin, Turdus migratorius
European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus
Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis
House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus
House Sparrow, Passer domesticus

Thirty species for the week - including today's field trip to the coast - but still no Phoebe or Tree Swallow to report - hopefully next week! The Tree Swallow will be a new bird for our list, since we started our birding efforts last fall after the swallows had flown south.

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