Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wolfe Neck Waste Treatment Plant 11/7--Black-headed Gull

After our first stop at Bombay Hook, and some poking around agricultural fields on the way south, Scott led us to this waste treatment plant in Sussex County where a gull rarity had recently been located. Shari & I always say that no vacation is complete without a trip to a waste treatment facility.

On and over the water we came upon a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls, eating what we don't even want to think about, and in among the bonnies was one Black-headed Gull, which can be separated from the others by its red bill and the black on its underwings. It is slightly larger than a Bonaparte's, but that is virtually an impossible field mark to see in swirling, whirling flock of gulls. Interestingly, a Black-headed Gull was recorded last year at the same location and speculation was that it was a returning bird.

Black-headed Gull is one of the most common gulls in Europe and no life bird for us, though it was for some in the group. But it is just nondescript enough in winter plumage (when it does not have a black head) that I'm sure I'd overlook it 99 times out of 100 if I didn't have someone like Scott to point it out. It is these kinds of birds that point out to me the gaping holes in my birding talents.

We only spent about 15 minutes at the plant. Scott spotted the bird quickly and once everyone had a good look at it (it was difficult to track as the birds played a kind of aerial three-card monte) we were on our way to Virginia.

8 species
Canada Goose  25
Turkey Vulture  5
Bonaparte's Gull  15
Black-headed Gull  1     
Laughing Gull  1
Ring-billed Gull  2
American Crow  5
European Starling  2

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