Year birds, state birds and a lifer

Yesterday I spent the day cruising the gull scene around Tullytown, Pa which is home to a rather massive dump. Larophiles know that dumps can often attract large numbers of gulls and this dump is no exception, attracting one of the largest numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls of anyplace in the Americas. My goal was to find a few white winged gulls, particularly Glaucous Gull which I have never found in Pennsylvania. Well, I was not disappointed! By the days end we had found at least 7 Iceland Gulls, all first cycle birds. I say at least because we saw at least that many that looked different, who knows if some of the similar looking birds were repeats or brand new. Up to this point I had only ever seen 1 Iceland Gull before so this was really a feast for my eyes.

It was at this point that another birder from the west part of the state joined us, looking through the closer gull flock that contained at least 2 Iceland Gulls. After tiring of the search through the flock we decide to do some other birding. We set off down the road and only made it a mile or two when this other birder screeched to a halt behind us, hopped out and shouted, “The Black-headed was right at the corner when you left!.” There had been a Black-headed Gull reported several days earlier and we had scanned for it several times with no luck. Pulling a neat little U-turn in the intersection we streaked back to the gull flock and sure enough, there it was sitting serenely not 50 feet from us, putting my life list up to 575. The bird was obviously smaller and seemed pretty intimidated by the bigger Ring-billed and Herring Gulls that surrounded it. We managed quite a few decent pictures of the bird and enjoyed studying this 3rd county record.

After this excitement we decided to search for the Glaucous Gull one more time. We were lamenting the difficulty in finding this and Cameron was remarking how he usually finds 1 Glaucous for every 3-4 Iceland’s and suddenly he excitedly shouted out, “I’ve got one!” This gull was a big bruiser, roughing up every gull that came close to it and in general causing a ruckus wherever it went. I managed to get a few identifiable photos, notice the pale wing tips, large size and black tipped bill. The Glaucous and Black-headed Gulls have advanced my PA list to 245, a modest number that will hopefully grow in the next few years.

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