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 





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