6 Gull Species at Ashbridge’s Bay / April 11, 2019

I associate watching gulls, with frigid days long ago when I carried my grandfather’s telescope, set it up and then watched as he had a close look at every gull far out on the lake. When he found a less common species he would show it to me. Otherwise I would be moving about trying to avoid shivering. This morning was definitely a shivering kind of morning with strong winds, overcast skies and a temperature of one degree.

Here is the group:

We did have a Golden-crowned Kinglet or two but nothing like the 100’s of my last walk here:

Golden-crowned Kinglet

There were also a few Brown Creepers:

Brown Creeper

One species that we did have 100’s of was Starlings:

European Starlings

As usual here, hungry chickadees appeared several times:

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

and a Downy Woodpecker:

Downy Woodpecker (male)

Many waterfowl are still present:

Buffleheads
Gadwall
Horned Grebe
Lesser Scaup (male)
Long-tailed Duck (female)
Long-tailed Duck (male)
Red-breasted Mergansers
Common Goldeneye (male)

One of the most challenging species for identification was soaring in high winds over the whitecap-laden waters of Lake Ontario. It was clear on first sight that there were at least three Glaucous Gulls and an Iceland Gull. Our common Ring-billed and Herring Gulls have gray mantles with black wing tips:

ring-billed gull

Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls have a very pale mantle and no black wingtips. The Iceland Gull looks very much like the Glaucous Gull but is a smaller gull with a smaller bill:

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull

A Bonaparte’s Gull (showing the beginnings of a black head) was also here:

Bonaparte’s Gull

And finally a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull (showing a white face):

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

Here are the Great Black-backed and Iceland Gull together:

Species list: horned grebe, red-necked grebe, double-crested cormorant, mute swan, Canada goose, mallard, gadwall, bufflehead, long-tailed duck, common goldeneye, lesser scaup, red-breasted merganser, common merganser, glaucous gull, Iceland gull, Bonaparte’s gull, great black-backed gull, herring gull, ring-billed gull, belted kingfisher, yellow-bellied sapsucker, downy woodpecker,  brown creeper, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, winter wren, American robin, golden-crowned kinglet, red-winged blackbird, common grackle, northern cardinal, American tree sparrow, song sparrow.  ( 33 species)

Scenes from the park:

Tamarack cone (Larix laricina)

NATURE POETRY

Oh, how fresh the wind is blowing!
See! The sky is bright an clear,
Oh, how green the grass is growing!
April! April! Are you here?         – Dora R. Goodale (1866–1953)

Miles Hearn

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