Hi all,

Bob Lewis's report of about seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Robert Moses SP 
yesterday would have caused a sensation just 20 years ago. I vividly recall 
Pat's and my excitement at finding four LBBGs in one day, including one of the 
first juveniles ever reliably recorded from Long Island, plus a presumptive 
hybrid LBBG x HERG, on 12 Oct 2002:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S24431327
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S27002766
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S27002767

Flash forward to today, and Bob's count highlights how few LBBGs remained just 
one day after Tuesday's storm roosts of 61 birds. This illustrates not only how 
much and how quickly things have changed, but also illuminates the manner in 
which these birds are occurring most abundantly on Long Island--not primarily 
as as winter residents, as we used to think, but as passage migrants and 
summering non-breeders.

It was probably just bad luck that Bob found none at all at Jones Beach, where 
61 (identical to the count at RMSP!) were present during the storm, but showing 
a very different age distribution:

RMSP 5 juvs, 14 SY, 13 older imms, 28 ads
JBWE  2 juvs; 20 SY, 24 older imms, 15 ads

Experience has shown that Second-Year and Third-Year birds occur most 
numerously as summering non-breeders, but also to an unknown extent as 
migrants, whereas juveniles and adults occur in a more stereotyped fashion as 
southbound passage migrants:

https://www.nybirds.org/KBsearch/y2009v59n4/y2009v59n4p337fogarty.pdf#
https://www.nybirds.org/KBsearch/y2011v61n1/y2011v61n1p35-36mitra.pdf#

My thought is that the RMSP birds comprised largely migrants, whereas the JBWE 
flock consisted of a mix of lingering summer birds plus migrants added in.

Given these considerations, as well as the recent spate of juvenile northern 
gulls (Sabine's in Broome, Black-legged Kittiwake in Brooklyn and Suffolk, and 
Bonaparte's scattered sparsely around), I've been searching parking lots and 
puddles up and down the shores of Region 10 these past few days, hoping, 
perhaps, to find a Red-necked Phalarope (only failure so far). With Cackling 
Goose arriving in Queens on Sunday, Pink-footed Goose in northern NYS on 
Tuesday, and Ross's Goose in Rhode Island today, there's an strong scent of 
Greenland and the Arctic in the air. We used to debate whether late October 
Barnacle Geese were "too" early--apparently not!

Shai Mitra

Bay Shore
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