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Monday, April 09, 2007

Common Gull (European) in Marine Park, Brooklyn

Note: this posting was updated in 2024 to reflect current taxonomic changes regarding the "Mew Gull". It is now recognized as two distinct species - Common Gull and Short-billed Gull. Despite my description in this posting, the bird we observed in Marine Park is now called a European Common Gull.

A Mew Gull was spotted in Marine Park, Brooklyn, on Easter Sunday. A widespread gull in Europe, there are 3 or 4 confirmed records in New York State. Fortuitously, it was spotted by Angus Wilson, a respected birder and chair of The New York State Avian Records Committee of the New York State Ornithological Society. He also has his own great website with a wealth of information on seabirds.

Sean and I went out at at sunrise to try and quickly locate it and leave in time to get to work.

This gull is (was) Sean's nemesis bird. As many times and as hard as he and Joe DiCostanzo tried to locate a Mew Gull that was hanging around Shinnecock for 3 years, they came up empty. Sean became so superstitious that last year, during our big state year, we were forbidden to utter the words "Mew Gull". On our way to Marine Park this morning Sean wasn't feeling very optimistic about finding the bird. We pulled into the parking lot at Marine Park and noticed a guy tossing bread into the air to a flock of gulls. Sean was visibly fired up as we jumped out of the car. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, one of the ring-billed-like gulls just dropped from the sky and hit the ground, apparently dead. Sean had this horrific look on his face, like his jinx had killed the "Mew Gull". I was closer to the bird than him and, kidding around, said, "Hey, it looks like the Mew Gull, but I think it's still breathing". He walked over to get a closer look, made a sigh of relief and said, "Ring-billed, and it's a good thing because I was just about to give it mouth-to-mouth".

"I'm not dead yet"

At first light we didn't find the gull in the Mill Basin area where it was seen late yesterday. However, after we parked the car in the Marine Park parking lot on Avenue U, it flew onto the field right next to the lot from the direction of Gerritsen Creek, across the road. The time was 9:15am. We observed it in this location for approximately 20 minutes, when it took off with a large flock of, primarily, Ring-billed Gulls. We relocated it across the road in the western most corner of the creek adjacent to the nature center. It moved back to the field a little while later, followed by a return to the corner of the creek. When Sean and I were leaving at 10:40am the flock had just taken off again. I followed it in my bins while Sean was packing up his photography gear and it eventually dropped back down into that corner with the rest of the flock.

Click here to learn more about the new classification and splitting of this species.

(All photos by - Sean Sime)

(All photos by - Sean Sime)

(All photos by - Sean Sime)

(All photos by - Sean Sime)

Marine Park location

1 comment:

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