It’s minus 5 degrees below zero outside, with a wind chill in the minus 20+ degrees. School systems all over the state are closed due to this blast of arctic air. So what a great time to go birding. And not just any birding mind you, cold weather birding which is a different animal altogether. We’re not grabbin’ our bins and flying out the door. No, we have to put some thought into this madness. But this is a life bird, and it’s really, really close to home this time. A Glaucous Gull is a good bird for me to chase, so I pulled on my long underwear and headed out to where it was first sighted, Sunsite Lake.
This small lake is right next to the Great Miami River, with East River Road bisecting both. A large flock of geese and gulls were on the river which I scanned as soon as I got there in spite of the fact the gull was located elsewhere. No Gull on the river. Move down to the lake and scan there. No Glaucous Gull there, only a few Herring Gulls and a couple dozen Ring-billed Gulls.
Back to the river where I meet another birder looking for the same bird. He scans and sees nothing. We talk a little and he tells me he’s waiting for a friend to show up. As the cold was getting unbearable we went into our respective cars to warm up. While in my car I’m still looking at various gulls coming in to land. After several minutes of this I notice one gull that didn’t have the black primaries like all the other gulls. Both Herring and Ring-billed Gulls have black primary feathers, however this bird didn’t despite the brief glimpse. I pulled on my hat and gloves and grabbed my bins for a quick look. The wind was coming off the river right into your face. It was horrible. I scanned the flock of gulls on the opposite side of the river and notice one gull bathing. No black primaries. Glaucous Gull. I race back to grab my scope and camera, and to tell the other birder it was here. We both settle in on it as his friend pulls up. We all three get good looks at it, regardless of the bad photo I took.
And believe it or not this road I was on also produced Snow Buntings, and a Fox Sparrow. And on the drive home I picked up a Horned Lark by the side of the road. So my new January 100 Species counts is”
- Glaucous Gull
- Herring Gull
- Snow Bunting
- Horned Lark
- Fox Sparrow
71 species to date.