After Chris Feeney and I missed the Yellow-legged Gull in St. John’s, Newfoundland and the 3 Shelducks in St. John, New Brunswick we were more than a little discouraged. We drove the 750km to Providence, Rhode Island, hoping that at least the Greylag Goose was still in that area.
Arriving late in the evening, we were up early next morning and headed out to the Metacomet Country Club in East Providence. There had been a Greylag Goose hanging with a flock of Canada’s for the past few weeks.
We scanned the Canada’s but no Greylag, but within minutes we saw the bird coming out of a patch of bull rushes. It moved around quite a bit and was certainly not liked by the Canada’s. My 719th ABA bird was in the books
Greylag Goose – ABA Life Bird #719
The next day we spent the day just birdwatching without pressure, a very cold but good time had with friends.
Chris had to leave early the next morning, so I decided to head for home. I checked and saw that a Slaty-backed Gull was being seen in Niagara Falls but I wasn’t sure I wanted to drive there then home. When I did a google search and found out Niagara Falls was 3 hours closer than home, my decision was a no brainer.
I have searched for this gull in Alaska, West Coast and everywhere it has been reported over the last 10 years without luck. I arrived at 2 am and found a nice secluded spot on the street and fell asleep wrapped in my sleeping bag. I was comfortable but it was cold. I may have gotten 3 hours sleep but as soon as the sun came up I drove through the gate to Goat Island State Park and started looking through the thousands of gulls. I could tell this was not going to be easy.
I found a spot where I could get fairly close and saw Herring, Ring-billed, Glaucous, Greater and Lesser Black-backs but I sure couldn’t pick out anything different. To make matters worse you couldn’t see there legs because they were standing in water.
I saw another car approach the area and park. A gentleman walked over to me and asked if I’d seen the Slaty-back. I said I’d seen a lot of possibilities but nothing really jumped out at me because I couldn’t see their leg color. He said I wonder if its in the same place as yesterday, then “yup”.
Well I watched that gull for over an hour before it decided to move, all it did was scratch its head, showing me those bright pink legs and combined with a dark mantle, there was no doubt.
Slaty-backed Gull – ABA Life Bird #220
I headed for home, stopping to visit a cousin in Toronto. Long trip, lots of kilometers driven, not as good as it could have been but the Slaty-back was well worth it.
Ciao for now…..