It’s what we birders do most of the time, sorting the bird from the non-bird, the “good” bird from the ho-hum. Naturally, most of what we see when we’re sorting is the expected, but you can’t find the scarce if you don’t look.
So this morning at Newark’s Weequahic Park I looked. I sorted through the American Coots to see Gadwall and Ring-necked Ducks, and I sorted through the Common Mergansers to see Hooded Merganser and Ruddy Ducks. And I sorted through more than 1,500 Canada Geese in search of anything different.
Difference, fortunately, comes in lots of flavors, especially when it comes to geese. This flock included one “black-cheeked” Canada, a ghostly white leucistic Canada, and the two banded birds above; one sported a very tight orange collar around the neck, inscribed with the yellow characters “F0F0.” I’ve submitted the number to Patuxent; we’ll see what they can come up with.
And then of course the gulls had to be sorted. I almost wish I hadn’t.
Just what this is I’m not sure, but in size, structure, molt timing, wing pattern, tail pattern, and upperparts pattern, the best fit to my skeptical eye was, ack, Thayer’s Gull.
Maybe it’s just a tiny, molt-retarded, pale-winged Herring Gull (like the great hulking bird in front of it), but I’d be surprised.
This is the second individual Thayer’s-like gull I’ve seen this winter in New Jersey. I’ve submitted documentations for both to the NJRBC, and can only hope that the committee’s response is polite.