On my way to the hawk watch at Greenwich Audubon Center, I stopped off at Pelham Bay Park this morning to look for the Black-headed Gull. I quickly spotted a noticeably smaller gull among a few Ring-bills in the southwest corner of the parking lot. I was unaware of the age of the reported Black-headed, so I assumed this first winter bird was it. But while looking at it and getting a few photographs, it didn't look right for a Black-headed (and I later found out that the Black-headed is an adult). What this bird had was a suggestion of a hood, which along with its smaller size, put thoughts of Franklin's in my mind. But the hood was not pronounced enough and the mantle color was too light. The bill on this bird is darkish with some reddish on the lower mandible (so wrong for Ring-billed of any age). The legs are not black, as would be expected in young Franklin's or Laughing, but too dark for Black-headed or Ring-billed. My guess is that this is indeed a hybrid, but not Laughing x Ring-billed. The smaller size of the bird and it head shape suggest to me that one of the parents could be a Black-headed. But your guess is as good as mine. A couple of pictures have been posted at my web site http://stevewalternature.com/ (click the Birds tab, then Recent Work).
Then it was off to the hawk watch, which turned out to be a very good move. It was an amazing day for November. The final tally at Quaker Ridge (Greenwich) was 577, headlined by 260 Red-shouldered Hawks. That is an all-time daily record for the northeast. Yea, I know it's Connecticut, but those birds are just a couple of minutes away from entering New York. Chestnut Ridge (Butler Sanctuary), a few files to the north and in New York, tallied 167 Red-shoulders. The moral here is that there's actually a good news story being told by migration watching. There has been quite in increase in Red-shouldered Hawks breeding in the northeast last few years. One would not have thought to do this as recently as five years ago, but you can now plan your hawk watching around Red-shouldered Hawks. Today bore that out with an epic day. Steve Walter Bayside, NY -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --