Date: 12/2/19 9:55 am
From: Bird observations from western New York <geneseebirds-l...>
Subject: [GeneseeBirds-L] Black-headed Gull - Niagara River at the Whirlpool
This past Saturday afternoon, Jean Iron spotted an adult BLACK-HEADED GULL
at the Whirlpool on the Niagara River, looking from the south overlook on
the Canadian side. The bird was seen there again on Sunday and today,
Monday. It was first discovered by several birders on Friday afternoon at
the "flypast" at Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is at the mouth of the river
where it flows into Lake Ontario. The flypast is the daily late afternoon
flight of Bonaparte's Gulls, which fly out of the river to Lake Ontario to
roost for the night. Birders watch from vantage points along the river near
the mouth. The Black-headed Gull and up to 11 LITTLE GULLS have also been
seen at the flypast the past two afternoons.

Seeing this bird is challenging. At the flypast, you will only have a few
seconds to spot it as it flies by with Bonaparte's Gulls at about eye-level.
Sightings the past few days have been between 4:00 and 5:00. At the
Whirlpool, you are far above the gulls, which are also not that close. This
makes seeing black on the underside of the primaries difficult. If the bird
is sitting on the water, you may notice its paler mantle and slightly larger
size than the Bonies. If the lighting is strong, you may see the red base of
the bill but it is usually difficult to see this. A spotting scope is very
helpful for spotting the bird at the Whirlpool and a knowledge of what to
look for is essential. One experienced birder was unable to see it for 20
minutes, despite near constant directions provided by other birders as the
bird flew around, until he got his scope and used that instead of

It is a good fall for large numbers of gulls on the river, especially
Bonaparte's Gulls. There are several ICELAND (including Thayer's), LESSER
and GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS around, as well as a few GLAUCOUS GULLS. Look
for LITTLE GULLS anywhere there are collections of Bonaparte's Gulls.

There are three male HARLEQUIN DUCKS above the falls that are seen with some
regularity but not consistently. There have no Purple Sandpipers reported on
the river, except for the birds seen at Donnelly's spit in Buffalo some days
ago. There was a female BLACK SCOTER below the control gates on Friday.

Good birding!



Willie D'Anna

Wilson, NY


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