Ontelaunee Black-backed Gulls

Today was a good day for gulls at Ontelaunee. When I arrived there were several hundred circling around in the air, giving a shimmering effect when they banked and caught the sunlight just right. They almost gave the impression of snow. While they were getting their act together and collecting to a more impressive flock of 1600 or so, I scanned the flocks of geese and ducks. Only one each of Tundra Swan and Snow Goose but in all the groups of Canada Geese I did find one smaller goose which was potentially a Cackling Goose. Recently split from the Canada Goose, Cackling Geese are significantly smaller and have short stubby bill. It can be quite a recreational activity combing through big flocks of Canada Geese in hopes of seeing one of these smaller, more rare geese.

By this point the circling gull flocks were fairly impressive so I drove to a spot where I could scan through them when they were in the water. Mostly Ring-billed Gulls of course but a nice smattering of Herrings, mostly immatures, here and there. As I reached the far end of the flock I noticed some gulls that were significantly darker. Zooming in I counted 5 Great Black-backed Gulls and 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The count of LBBG’s is easily the highest I have seen at Ontelaunee and is a real testament to the rapid range expansion that the species is exhibiting in the Eastern US.

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