Southern Ohio is not a hot spot for gulls. We typically get four species in the winter - Ring-billed, Bonaparte's, and Herring are regularly found, with the fourth species, Franklin's, being the rarest. (Click the link for my post on finding my Life Franklin's Gulls at East Fork last month.)
Bill Stanley, local birder, found an unusual gull along the north shore of East Fork Lake in the State Park on Friday. Today, he led a bird walk for the Cincinnati Bird Club, on the south side of the lake. When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I asked him if it was the "guaranteed rare gull trip." He laughed and said, "Well, it could have flown to this side of the lake since yesterday, and we might finding it hanging out on the south swimming beach with the local gulls, but who knows."
Bill under-promises and over-delivers. Not only did we FIND the second winter GLAUCOUS GULL, but it gave us great looks. We found it loafing on the beach with a group of Ring-billed and Bonaparte's Gulls, where it posed nicely. Then, it flew slowly along the shore to join another gull group, delivering terrific views of its field marks in flight. Next, it obligingly landed next to a Herring Gull so we could appreciate its size, even larger than the largest of our regular gulls. At one point, I had four gull species in one scope view - Glaucous, Herring, Ring-billed, and the diminutive Bonaparte's. As an added bonus, a Horned Grebe swam behind the group as I watched. Super stuff for an inland lake in southern Ohio! I asked Bill what he paid the gull to put on such a good show, especially since we had a newspaper reporter and photographer with us.
Other great birds included more Cedar Waxwings than I have ever seen in one place - there had to be at least 50, probably more. We had my FOS (First Of the Season) Purple Finches (male and female; beautiful!) and my FOS American Tree Sparrows, as well as several other sparrow species. Gotta love the LBJs!
Terrific birding, and well-worth the icy toes and frost-bitten fingers.
Great Blue Heron
GLAUCOUS GULL - LIFE BIRD!
Belted Kingfisher (M & F)
Cedar Waxwing - lots and lots!
American Tree Sparrow
Purple Finch - many, both M & F