I traveled back east for Christmas and New Year’s, first to Virginia, then a little time in Pennsylvania, and finally to Connecticut before heading back to New Mexico. There wasn’t a lot of time or opportunity for birding but I managed a little bit.
The morning after I got back to Virginia, I looked out at my parent’s bird feeder and noticed a strange, crested, red bird. Honestly, for a few seconds I didn’t recognize it. It looked like some amazing tropical bird.
The gull flock at Weathersfield Cove. All ages of Ring-billed were present, but only 1st cycle and adult Herrings and adult Greater Black-backed.
A couple of Iceland Gulls were being seen around Hartford, CT while I was there. I convinced Melissa that we should go look for them despite the cold and the frustrating nature of gull identification. But Iceland Gulls usually stand out so this should be easy. We checked three spots where they had been reported on eBird, but failed to find anything other than the usual Ring-billed, Herring, and Greater Black-backed Gulls. At one of the sites, we resorted to buying a bagel at Dunkin Donuts to entice some of the gulls farther out in the water to come in. Only a few were interested.
Many Ring-billed Gulls with an adult Herring and Greater Black-backed.
We had a more exciting outing to a section of the Hockanum Linear Trail in East Hartford. An immature Red-headed Woodpecker had been seen there since at least November. Connecticut is far north for this species in general, especially in winter. This bird seemed like a sure thing: go down the trail, follow the boardwalk to where it turns sharply to the right, and look around. Melissa and I got to the turn, she looked up, and asked “Is that it?” It sure was. They can’t get any easier than that. A Winter Wren and some hunters of questionable legality were also in the area.
Next time I’m in Connecticut in the winter, I’ll have to get down to the sound to look for Razorbills and go look for whatever rare geese show up (a Pink-footed Goose showed up soon before we left and a Barnacle Goose was found just after we left).
Abandoned desk chairs at Batterson Park Pond. Watch gulls and find rarities with perfect ergonomic support.