Sunday, April 6, 2014

Palmyra Cove 4/6--Laughing Gull

There are a couple of Laughing Gulls in the flock--can you find 'em? 
The last time Shari & I were at Palmyra Cove Nature Park in the depths of winter, the birding was not productive. We took a jaunt there today, hoping our timing was more propitious. I like the concept of the park--owned by the Burlington County Bridge Authority, it is beneath the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and much of the habitat has been formed from dredge spoils out of the Delaware River.

We walked up to the dredge spoils pond after not finding much on the river itself. A couple of continuing hen Red-breasted Mergansers, a rarity for Burlington County, were in there and not much else--Mallards, geese. We walked along the cove trail and turned up birds here and there--phoebes, woodpeckers, sparrows, and best of all a Brown Creeper, being as elusive as it could possibly be.

The cove trail leads, as one would expect, to a freshwater cove. It was low tide as you can see from the photograph. Mostly mud. There were many black ducks sitting on the mud, a good number of Green-winged Teal in a large puddle, Tree Swallows in the air, and lots of gulls. Since I didn't bring a scope today, we had to walk out to the first viewing platform to get a decent look at the gulls. They turned out to be mostly Ring-billed Gulls, but in the mix were two Laughing Gulls. Shari was surprised when I told her they were our first LAGU of the year--surely we'd seen them down in Cape May, but no, we'd had Bonaparte's Gulls this year but no laughers. So I got my second FOY species for the day, a completely unexpected one since gulls are never uppermost in my mind.

Our list for our mile long walk along the Delaware:
24 speciesCanada Goose  25
American Black Duck  30
Mallard  15
Green-winged Teal  16
Red-breasted Merganser  2    Shaggy heads, gray and white bodies. 
Bald Eagle  1
Laughing Gull  2
Ring-billed Gull  100
Herring Gull  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Fish Crow  20
Tree Swallow  10    Fresh water cove
Carolina Chickadee  1    Heard
Tufted Titmouse  2
Brown Creeper  1
Carolina Wren  1    Heard
American Robin  15
Song Sparrow  3
Swamp Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  1    Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  5
Common Grackle  10

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