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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rare gull in Prospect Park

Gull flock in front of Duck Island

(Photo credit - Rob J)

When I returned home from my morning appointment I had a voice-mail message from Sean. Apparently, Shane had observed a Black-headed Gull among the common gulls on Prospect Lake. I quickly changed, hopped on my bicycle and headed into Prospect Park.

Black-headed Gulls are rare European visitors that are usually found along the Atlantic coast. Why this particular bird showed up inland is a mystery.

I spent a long time searching, alternately, with Rusty, Steve, Sean and Shane. After three hours I eventually found it coming in to roost off the Peninsula "Thumb". It is associating with the Ring-billed Gulls and moving back and forth between an ice flow in front of Duck Island and the main body of Prospect Lake.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Ring-billed Gull and Black-headed Gull

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Black-headed Gulls-

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Prospect Park, 3/1/2006
Pied-billed Grebe (1, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (~30-40. Numbers have recently dropped.)
Hooded Merganser (1 male, 1 female. Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (~50, Prospect Lake.)
Turkey Vulture (1, flying north over Peninsula meadow.)
American Coot (~20-30.)
Black-headed Gull (1, Prospect Lake near Duck Is.)
Ring-billed Gull (~2000.)
Great Black-backed Gull (3.)
American Crow (6, Prospect Lake.)
Swamp Sparrow (1, edge of Peninsula meadow.)
Common Grackle (Small flock near West Is.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow


Marge said...

Rob..what a great spot that was and great pics. That would be a life bird for me!

You never know what your gonna find in those gull flocks.

Anonymous said...

This bird doesn't seem to be purely Black-headed. It's facial feathering seems just about right, but it's upper back and wing panel are like young Ring-billed Gulls. Black-headed X Ring-billed hybrids are not unheard of, there was a discussion over a similar hybrid in woodburne. Here's the link:

Rob J. said...

Thanks for the heads-up (pun intended). To be honest, we didn't notice anything unusual about this individual. While it was associating with a ring-billed flock it was separating itself by remaining at its outer margins. If it's any help, I've posted the entire photo series at a larger size here:

Let me know what you think.

Frode Falkenberg said...

Looks like a perfect 1. winter BHG to me! Cannot see any hints of delawarensis or canus involvement here.

Rob J. said...

I posted a question on the Frontiers of Bird ID forum regarding possible hybidization. Every response confirmed that the Brooklyn bird is, as Paul from Ireland replied, "spot on for Black-headed".

Anonymous said...

Don't mind my post, don't get all confused about it. I am just fascinated with the actual RB X BH Gull from Woodburne, and I guess it made me suspicious or excited to see another. I am very disappointed that none have turned up, r have been reported from point lookout this year. It seems that the east enders are getting most of the good stuff!

Good birding

Rob J. said...

Not a problem. Gulls are a real challenge for me and I welcome comments, info, etc. Do you bird around the city? Have we ever met?

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