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Birdwalk Highlights for 2/15: Town Landing Tour including Black-headed x Ring-billed Gull hybrid!

Updated: Feb 16

Despite a starting temperature of right about 0F, almost a dozen people showed up (even without SnowBirder Points!?) and were greatly rewarded. With no wind and bright sun, it was actually relatively pleasant out as we spent time working the shoreline from Freeport through Falmouth (and getting in and out of the cold!).


The continued complete lack of bay ice (other than some thin skim ice in sheltered places from the frigid overnight) meant fewer concentrations of ducks, but we had waterfowl everywhere we stopped. The first highlight was the MERGANSER HAT TRICK from the Lower Falls Landing in Yarmouth - which has been a little less consistent this winter - with 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, 4 COMMON MERGANSERS, and a pair of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Great views of COMMON GOLDENEYES as well.


The open coves and mudflats hosted plenty of MALLARDS (315 in all) and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (65+), and so it was surprising that we didn't have any rare dabblers among them. At least 10 MALLARD X AMERICAN BLACK DUCK HYBRIDS were noticed as well, with likely many more among the multitudes. Two distant BALD EAGLES from the boat launch at Winslow Park were trumped by a great look at an adult that flew by and perched overlooking the river at Lower Falls Landing, also looking at the goldeneyes and mergansers.


Overall, duck numbers were solid, albeit spread out. Tallies+estimates of other species not previously mentioned yielded rough counts of 165 COMMON EIDER, 140 BUFFLEHEADS, 81 CANADA GEESE, 37 Red-breasted Mergansers, 28 Common Goldeneyes (very low), 10 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and 6 SURF SCOTERS.


72 HERRING GULLS, 22+ RING-BILLED GULLS, and 3 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS were noted, but it was one lone gull that stole the headline today. At the Falmouth Town Landing, we relocated an ultra-rare BLACK-HEADED X RING-BILLED GULL HYBRID that was first seen here a couple of weeks ago, but not reported to our knowledge since. It was close to the landing, and allowed very close approach for fantastic photo ops - although the lighting was a challenge. While this bird may not "count," it was still a lot of fun to see and ponder.








I was particularly fond of that unique and gorgeous wing pattern!


And, here are a few shots from Michael Boardman who was on the birdwalk.





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