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Twitch: Common Gull

Stamford, CT

sunny 59 °F

Today I had an impossibly small window of time, from 11:45am to 4:00pm, between work shifts, to chase a would-be life bird in Stamford, Connecticut: the ironically-named Common Gull. This species is a common coastal species indeed, but only in Eurasia — it is a somewhat-regular vagrant to North America. Worth noting is that this species was recently split from the Mew Gull complex to form two species: Common and the Short-billed Gull, which is the species I chased unsuccessfully two months ago in Brooklyn.

Anyway, I had a super short window of time to take the train to Stamford, find my way to Cummings Park either by uber or bus, find the bird, and reverse the process in order to make it back in time for my 4:00pm work shift on the Upper West Side.

Luckily, my outbound train was on time and while onboard, I discovered that a bus to Cummings Park would depart 4 minutes after my train arrived in Stamford. So, after an on-time arrival, I hurried to buy a ticket but frustratingly the ticket machine rejected all of my credit and debit cards. So then I just ran to the bus and hoped by some miracle I hadn’t used all my coins on an NYC bus last night. Luckily, I only came ten cents short and the bus driver waved me on.

So after a train, bus ride, and an eight minute walk, I was at the park and had just over half an hour to find a rare gull that hadn’t been spotted for almost an hour and a half at that point. I immediately noticed a wealth of RING-BILLED GULLS to pick through on this beautiful, almost 60-degree day.
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There was also a group of HOODED MERGANSERS in the harbor. I chatted with a friendly woman who alerted me of the recent Connecticut birding news and asked me about my studies, as well as a few other birders with whom I exchanged pleasantries.
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Well, I soon had to order my uber back to the train station in order to make it back on time, so I rather dejectedly made a final scan of the parking lot for gulls…and three minutes before the uber arrived, I spotted one different gull. I immediately thought “maybe Lesser Black-backed?” but the mantle was just not quite dark enough for that species.
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So I checked the bill on the bird and sure enough it was a pure greenish-yellow color with no ring or other conspicuous markings, which clinched the identification: it was my lifer COMMON GULL!!! Wow!
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Another field mark visible here is the white crescent which are the white tips to the rear end of this birds’s gray mantle (backside).
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Note when compared to this Ring-billed Gull that the mantle is darker and actually the bird is slightly larger than a Ring-billed, though that second comparison is tougher to see here.
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Just a beautiful bird all around! I was thankfully able to get one other birder on it before it flew off, and I told several others about it right as I was stepping into my uber back to the train station. Talk about a near-miss! Bird-of-the-day absolutely goes to the Common Gull, with runner-up to the Hooded Mergansers. I sure am pleased with how 2022 has gone so far!

(Made it back to work in time, too!)

Happy birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1128 Species

Posted by skwclar 23:08 Archived in USA

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Comments

Congratulations! Great find!

by Mary McCutchan

And there you are! Doing another happy lifer dance! Very cool Henry!

by Poo

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