Richardson’s Geese and Kumlien’s GullBy
It isn’t exactly Newark’s answer to Stanley Park, but Weequahic Park turned out to be a fine spot for a chilly noontime stroll today.
The lake is at the center of the park both geographically and ornithologically, and the dog and I walked its entire circumference in less than an hour. There was a modest smattering of waterfowl, and it didn’t take long to come across an outlander species among the 1,350 Canada Geese.
Richardson’s Cackling Goose appears to be just a mild rarity in New Jersey nowadays, but I can remember actually chasing the species–then recognized as a small race of Canada Goose in its old, broad sense–back in the 1980s. Scarce or not, this has to be one of the cutest subspecies of a very cute goose, and I’m sure that the minimum of seven individuals we found today more than doubled my lifetime total for the state.
That should have been enough, but inevitably, we were at the one-mile point in a two-mile loop, so kept on. And it’s a good thing.
Knowing that lunch awaited at home, I hadn’t taken any time with the gulls after ticking off American Herring, Great Black-backed, and Ring-billed Gulls, but still I kept my eye on the birds flying in and out just in case. Sure enough, a lovely first-cycle Kumlien’s Iceland Gull, with just a hint of brown smudging in the primaries, suddenly appeared overhead and landed in the larid mass in the middle of the lake, making Weequahic instantly into one of my favorite birding sites in Essex County.