Yellow-legged Gull & Other Gems of Winter at Quidi Vidi

Quidi Vidi lake, in eastern St. John’s, is the hub of local birding activity during winter (if not all year). The resident ducks are joined by many others as ponds & rivers around the city freeze up, and the small areas of open water at Quidi Vidi can provide great looks and photo opportunities with a a variety of interesting birds. Regular species there include Northern Pintail, Greater & Lesser Scaup, & Tufted Duck, among others. This winter they have been joined by more uncommon birds like a drake Wood Duck and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks. Very unusual have been as many as five Common Mergansers visiting the lake the past two weeks, providing great, close views that are very atypical for this normally wary species.

Ring-necked Ducks breed in Newfoundland, but are rarely easy to photograph. This drake has been hanging out in the relatively small patches of open water at Quidi Vidi since early February. - Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

Ring-necked Ducks breed in Newfoundland, but are rarely easy to photograph. This drake has been hanging out in the relatively small patches of open water at Quidi Vidi since early February.
– Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

Since this morning was the first chance I had to visit Quidi Vidi for several weeks, I was happy to find the mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks and the other divers hanging out there and providing some excellent photo opportunities.

Photo opportunities with Common Mergansers are few and far between ,since they usually stick to larger patches of open water and are very wary. A small group making regular visits to Quidi Vidi have been becoming more tolerant of people and allowing some great looks. - Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

Photo opportunities with Common Mergansers are few and far between ,since they usually stick to larger patches of open water and are very wary. A small group making regular visits to Quidi Vidi have been becoming more tolerant of people and allowing some great looks.
– Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

But my main reason for visiting this morning was to look for the adult Yellow-legged Gull which has been so elusive all winter. It has only been seen a handful of times since it was first discovered in late October, but in had been reported at Quidi Vidi each of the past three mornings. I only had a couple hours before having to return home for family obligations, so I was hoping it stuck to its apparent schedule. And sure enough, at ~9:40am I caught sight of this classy looking gull flying in. It landed on the “beach” at the Virginia River outflow, just 20m or so from where I and a handful of other hopeful birders were set up. I managed some decent photos (despite the fact its legs were consistently obscured by snow and/or water) before it moved further away to rest on the nearby ice and eventually flew off when the rest of the gulls were flushed by an eagle. Great start to the weekend!!

The Yellow-legged Gull is, in my opinion, one of the classiest looking gulls out there (and I do love gulls!). The combination of bright yellow bill and legs, brilliant red gony spot, and that magic shade of grey add up to one beautiful bird. - Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

The Yellow-legged Gull (right) is, in my opinion, one of the classiest looking gulls out there (and I do love gulls!). The combination of bright yellow bill and legs, brilliant red gony spot, and that magic shade of grey add up to one beautiful bird.
– Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

Note the single white mirror on P10 and the extensive black in the wingtip of this Yellow-legged Gull (especially compared to the Herring Gull wingtip visible at far left). - Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

Note the single white mirror on P10 and the extensive black in the wingtip of this Yellow-legged Gull (especially compared to the Herring Gull wingtip visible at far left).
– Photo: Jared Clarke (February 22. 2014)

YLGU_Feb222014_2021COME_Feb222014_1447 COME_Feb222014_1593 COME_Feb-222014_1478

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s