|Big Bend National Park|
|Big Bend National Park|
While gulling in the Hartford area this afternoon I noticed a hefty adult Iceland Gull flying in - or so I thought. A closer look at the perched bird and I quickly realized that this was actually a hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull, a bird I don't often see around here, especially of this age.
What jumped out first, other than the sturdy structure of the bird, was its staring pale lemon yellow eye. Scope views confirmed that there was not a single dark fleck to the iris, which is something that you'd expect to see in our "Kumlien's" Iceland Gulls. The orbital ring was yellow-orange, not reddish. The fine streaking on the crown and nape was not typical for Iceland Gull either, which usually shows a blurry/smoky pattern.
|Glaucous x Herring hybrid|
|first cycle "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull|
Well, there's no denying that relative to other years in memory, 2020 was mostly a bag of shit. But there is hope for a much better 2021, despite what is guaranteed to be a rough start. The vaccine rollout signifies what is very likely the beginning of the end of this pandemic. Also, here in the U.S. we will be welcoming a President that will almost certainly make our country and our world better off in many ways. So let's drink to that tonight!
On the local bird front, I have ended the year with a goose search, one more northwest finch tour, and a couple CBCs (one more to go).
As I have been focusing some on my state Self-Found list, the "rare goose" section shows a pretty massive gap. I have yet to find my own Barnacle, Pink-footed, or Ross's in Connecticut. My own town of Wallingford was formerly a bit of a mecca for rare geese, but that all changed about the time I moved here some 11 years ago. My theory is that it has something to do with the declining role of agriculture. Most fields that were planted annually are now left alone, leaving very few plots with food for the geese. It is probably not a coincidence that goose numbers and variety have plummeted with the exception of an occasional migrant flock.
So recently I have been venturing further from home in search of geese, so far with plenty of Greater White-fronted, Cackling, and Snow Geese to show for it. A tour along the upper CT River Valley on the 10th had one CACKLING and one SNOW.
|"Richardson's" Cackling Goose|
Though finch reports have been sparse the last few weeks, I ventured to the NW corner of the state on the 23rd and was lucky to encounter 4 PINE GROSBEAKS near the Great Mountain Forest headquarters in Canaan. They have remained in the area for several days and have been seen by many birders. Other than redpolls at a few locations, it was pretty quite up there. We're always talking quality over quantity in Litchfield County during winter.
|Pine Grosbeak, playing hard-to-get high in the conifers|
Several of us took a ferry ride on Christmas Eve and enjoyed several Razorbills.
|On the way out of the harbor, we spotted Santa getting in some training time before the big day|
This year marked the second annual Norwich Christmas Bird Count, and I took the "South" section once again. This time, having worked out many of the kinks from the inaugural run, I tallied 67 species in my section. Highlights included VIRGINIA RAIL, MARSH WREN, 8 flyby EVENING GROSBEAKS, and this Cassiar-like Junco.
|"Cassiar" Dark-eyed Junco|
Happy New Year! Stay safe. And whenever you're offered the vaccine, please do your part to end this pandemic by taking it.
|first cycle "Common" Mew Gull, L. c. canus|
|Also on site was this smart adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, a returning bird to the area for a few winters now|