Gulls and Geese on a crisp winters day - 9 Jan 2010

Montauk Point was especially beautiful today with blue skies, crisp cold air and a coating of snow left from last week's storm. At Montauk Inlet, 2 KUMLEIN'S ICELAND GULLS (1st-basic and 2nd basic) were feeding with other gulls along the small beach immediately west of inlet and both visited the melt water pools in the empty Gosmans parking lot. Increasingly scarce on eastern LI, four CANVASBACK were using an opening in the ice on Fort Pond.

Out at Montauk Point, another 1st winter KUMLEIN'S ICELAND GULL and 2 adult BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE were among the cloud of gulls following the 'Hellcat' party boat as it came in from an offshore fishing trip. At least 4 adult BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES were milling around off the point with 30 or so BONAPARTE'S GULLS. Interestingly, Hugh McGuinness and party found a 150++ Bonaparte's here earlier in the morning, again with some kittiwakes mixed in. Where did they go and could there be something better mixed in amongst them? After some scanning, I picked up 4 RAZORBILLS flying over the more distant rips. Considering the excellent visibility, the number seems low. Certainly the numbers of loons and gannets have dropped significantly.

The field on the north side of Further Lane in Amagansett held a large flock of Canada Geese. By phone, Hugh McGuinness alerted me to the presence 3 CACKLING GEESE and 6 SNOW GEESE, the latter almost certainly the birds seen earlier by Karen and Barbara Rubinstein on a corn field behind Mary's Marvelous Cafe in Amagansett. When I arrived shortly before dusk, the Snow Geese were still there and quickly I found 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE that moved around as a pair. Hugh had seen these early in the morning on Hook Pond. Allowing for the late afternoon sun both white-fronts seemed orange rather than pink billed (a topic I want to discuss in another post). After a bit of searching I found a Cackling Goose that quickly morphed into a flock of 7 CACKLING GEESE, again moving through the Canadas as a cohesive group. This is the largest flock of (Richardson's) Cackling Geese (nominate subspecies hutchinsii) that I've witnessed on Long Island. Small flocks are more typical of western NY which is significantly closer to the Central flyway.

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