Monday, November 28, 2011

OFNC Gull Workshop with Mark Gawn and Bernie Ladouceur

November 27, 8:00 am

There was a large crowd out today in spite of the poor weather and rain in the forecast.  Obviously, gull identification is a topic of interest to members of the Bird Studies Group.

We met at Lincoln Heights Shopping Centre.  Mark already had a Merlin on a nearby apartment building in the scope.  We began by studying the Ring-billed Gulls in the parking lot, noting the different ages.  Mark explained that these gulls only take two years to reach adulthood, while the larger gulls take four.

We carpooled to Ottawa Beach, but there were very few gulls.  Mark said that they will return late in the afternoon.  So, we moved on to Andrew Haydon Park where we had no gulls, but good views of Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers, White-winged Scoters, Lesser Scaups, a couple of Common Loons and a late Great Blue Heron.  Brenda also saw a Black Scoter, but the hoped-for Purple Sandpiper was not there.

Near the heron, there were some Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, as well as a preening female Lesser Scaup.  But we needed gulls, so we took off for Corkstown Road to check the fields.  No gulls, but a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Shrike.

We moved on to Burnside Ponds.  Here we had a line of gulls on a ridge between us and the dump, so we were able to study them in our scopes.  There were mostly Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls.  At one point, four of the latter were together allowing us to compare all four year-plumages.  We also noticed a first-winter Glaucous Gull, one of the white-winged gulls.

Something put all the gulls up, so we turned our attention to the many Snow Geese that were landing and taking off at the pond.  Mark noted a Ross's Goose among them, and we all got on it before they vanished behind the point.
Also on the pond were tons of Common Mergansers and a few dozen Hooded Mergansers.  Flocks of 50-60 Greater Snow Geese continued to mill about overhead, and we could easily see some blue-morph ones with them.  Mark said there is also a rare blue-morph Ross's Goose, but of course we did not see one.

We moved over to Trail Road to look for more gulls, but there were surprisingly few.  As the rain started to spit, I packed it in, although some were heading over to Shirleys' Bay.  Later, Mark reported a Thayer's Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull back at Ottawa Beach.

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