A surprisingly good birding day in spite of 35 mph winds! I wasn’t sure what to do today. The high winds made early walking of trails difficult and I didn’t feel like getting chilled so early. I decided to do some errands in Monticello. I then went to the Shop-rite Plaza to try for my County FOS FISH CROW. One was right in the parking lot with 140 Ring-billed Gulls. I decided to go to the Rondout Reservoir to see if anything new had come in with the recent influx of waterfowl in the county. On the way, I passed through Woodbourne. There was a large field on the prison property that had a flooded area in the middle. There was an abundance of birds there. Canada Geese, Mallards, Black Ducks, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. I sifted through the birds, but found nothing interesting. I then went to the Rondout where there were many birds as well. I had my first American Wigeon and Wood Ducks away from the Bashakill this year. Mallards and Black Ducks, Common and Hooded Mergansers were all present. I decided to head back to the valley and the Bashakill. As I passed Woodbourne, I thought I’d better take Rt. 42 again to pass the gulls. I was hoping that a Great Black-backed Gull might have come in. No luck. As I scanned the now larger flock of gulls, more gulls were coming in. As I watched, an interesting gull caught my eye. As it landed, I saw that it was much darker than the Herring Gulls, but not a Great Black-backed Gull. It was a transitioning bird and I wanted a better look. I set up my scope and found the bird walking to the left in the middle of the gulls. It sat down and I studied it closely. It was clearly a second winter LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL! This is the first one recorded in the county since the landfill closed in 2009. I tried to get a half way decent shot of the bird, but distance, bright sun and angle were making it difficult. I couldn’t trespass on the prison property. I walked a short way down the road (barely an edge and heavy traffic) and found a spot that I thought I could get and identifiable shot. I did manage a couple, but they are over exposed yet identifiable. I then headed to the Bashakill where all the recent ducks continue.
Many of the ducks were too distant to see well, and I missed Bufflehead this morning. Still great birding for a WINDY day.