Thursday, November 6, 2008

They don't look like they're laughing to me...

We're in Virginia Beach to visit my in-laws who just had a beautiful little (red-headed!) baby. And while this isn't a birding trip, I did bring along the scope, camera, bins (oh and hip waders, hopefully more on that tomorrow or the next day).

After driving through the night there wasn't time for much other than some visiting in the morning, an afternoon nap, and more visiting in the evening, but I did hit the gull flock behind the hotel (there were also brown pelicans and gannets well out).

Predictably laughing gulls were well-represented, showing all of the plumage types for this time of year, first off a first winter bird with a fresh gray mantle and retained (worn) juvie wing feathers:

I haven't entirely made up my mind on the ages of some of these birds (it's hard without bill, eye, or primary color differences that can make it easier in the big white-headed species). The two with their heads in their mantles are first winters, I'm not certain if the dark lead bird in the foreground is an advanced first winter, or more likely a 2nd winter that's still in the process of moulting the wing feathers:

Here's a similar bird on the left (also probably a bird attaining 2nd winter plumage) with a bird that's pretty much full 2nd winter on the right:

Finally we have the adult winter-type birds:
There were also good numbers of both black-backed gulls though relatively few herring gulls, hopefully I can manage some decent ranges of them as well. Tomorrow I'm hoping to try to track down brown-headed nuthatch and depending on how much time that takes, may try to hunt for sharp-tailed and seaside sparrows with the waders if I can find some habitat. (Are there alligators in Virginia???)

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