Date: 1/31/19 6:42 pm
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] "Have ye seen the White ... Gull?" -- long post

Today, I made my fifth visit to the Buchanan Boat Launch in Sayreville to look for the Glaucous Gull which has graced that venue numerous times over the past few weeks (reported at a minimum by J. Desenovich, S. Albert, and R. Dodelson). I do begin to feel like Captain Ahab on a fruitless and maniacal quest to find this one individual giant pale bird, amidst what I'm sure are 4,000 other gulls which are wintering in the area and feasting at the Edgeboro Landfill during the day. Nevertheless, I will give it another try tomorrow.

Even though I have not seen the white gull, I have enjoyed other interesting bird sightings: a Short-eared Owl on my first visit, rising off the Edgeboro Landfill after dusk (and 11 [!!] Harriers in the air at one time that same evening); an adult Iceland Gull on the third...found almost simultaneously with Pat Belardo; a Pied-billed Grebe on the fourth (found by Steven Albert), looking tiny and vulnerable amidst the rush and flow of the river, but in reality no worse for riding the current downstream; and today: three Great Cormorants, one whose head was covered in a kind of ice-hood, and two drake Canvasbacks, their chestnut profiles practically glowing in the evening light (it's easy to see why they are birders' favorite ducks).

It's a fine raptor location, too: The two Bald Eagles whose nest is on the high-tension tower downriver are always around: today they were cavorting mid-air, playing "catch" with some object. There are usually Red-tailed Hawks kiting in the ever-present bone-chilling wind (never come here without your warmest winter parka and thick mittens!). There's almost always a Harrier or two. I've not seen a Rough-legged, but others have. The resident Peregrines survey their smorgasbord from atop the abandoned brick factory. Once, I saw one of them come blazing across the river's surface beating strongly against a 20 mph wind and then, effortlessly and with almost no movement of its wings, riding that wind in a single swoosh up the 125+ feet to the top of the chimney in the blink of an eye and just...plonk...ceasing to fly right at its perch. Nary a single wing flap. It takes one's breath away to watch a living creature move through space with such elegance and efficiency.

I continue to hope for better fortune next time, and that my Pequod (Prius?) leads me to an encounter-no harpoons--with this marvelous white bird.

Good birding,

Marc Chelemer
Tenafly (414)

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