Ulster County – great birds!

One of nine Black Vultures soaring around the compost piles 1/20/12

Distant Adult Basic Lesser Black-backed Gull, first on left on roof, 1/20/12

Second Cycle Glaucous Gull on roof, second from left 1/20/12

Second Cycle Glaucous Gull at the Compost Piles 1/20/12

This morning, spurred on by Curt McDermott’s great luck with gulls recently, I took a trip over to the Shawangunk Grasslands and the Compost Pile at the Kingdom Hall property. I had some nice birds. I was fortunate enough to run into Ralph Tabor at the grasslands. He filled me in on the happenings there recently. He said there were six Short-eared Owls present last evening and as many as eight recently. As we watched, we spotted at least six Northern Harriers, three Rough-legged Hawks including one dark-phase bird, two Red-tails, five Turkey Vultures and a few passerines. Upon leaving the grasslands I headed over to the Kingdom Hall Compost Pile. I found about 250 gulls lazing on the hillside above the road. At first I didn’t see anything special, then as a couple of Herring Gulls moved around, I found an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. A nice basic plumaged bird. I watched for some time, enjoying at least 15 Turkey Vutures and 9 Black Vultures as they soared around the area. At some point something flushed the gulls, many of which had been on the compost pile which is out of sight. When they flushed I immediately noticed a GLAUCOUS GULL among them. The bird flew around for a few minutes then landed right at the front of the flock in the field. Photos were tough for these birds due to the distance, but at least they are identifiable. I had a total of 21 species between the two locations and a nice morning.

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