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:

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)


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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