Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm old enough to remember when Lesser Black-backed Gulls were considered a European Vagrant in New York ...

So the forecast was miserable today - blasting Southerly winds and heavy rain - but I had to get out of the apartment (the maid needs her space on Tuesdays) so I went to the beach anyway.

Not a ton to report but there were birds sheltering from the weather.  There were more than 300 Black Skimmers on 'the spit" at Jones Beach along with a Caspian Tern and a Western Sandpiper.  A Pectoral Sandpiper in the parkway median had the distinct look of a bird that would rather not be flushed and have to go back up into that wind.  The parking lots were also full if gulls, including at least 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls ....

Black Skimmers

Wait ....  Aren't Lesser Black-backed Gulls a European species (I hear you ask)?  Well they used to be. In fact, when I moved here in 1991 they were still considered a reportable rarity and an exciting star bird for a day on Long Island.  Fast forward 20+ years however, and they are now pretty common in the near-shore and mid-shore waters of Long Island.  On a day like today, with big Southerly winds, any visit to a coastal parking lot is going to come up with this species.  We are also seeing more juveniles, which suggests breeding 'on this side of the pond' so probably not really a vagrant any more. Looks like they are here to stay ...
Heading into 4th Winter?
Heading into 3rd Winter?
Heading into 2nd Winter?

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