Friday, January 24, 2014

NM - Thayer's Gull and Wood Ducks galore - 01/24

Today was pretty much a dedicated travel day but I still arrived in Albuquerque with enough time for an hour on gulls on the Rio Grande just downstream from the Alameda Bridge. Going by recent reports, this spot seemed to have a good reputation for scarce gulls but when I arrived I found only a small flock of Ring-billed until I noticed some American Crows harassing a slightly larger gull that was wrestling with a dead fish. It turned out to be a beautiful third-cycle Thayer's Gull, remarkably the only large gull present. The Thayer's vigorously defended its catch from American Crows and Ring-billed Gulls, and a late arriving American Herring Gull. As my birding hour drifted towards dusk, all of the gulls departed northward upstream leaving only the Thayer's behind which was the very last gull to leave and head north, presumably to a roost.

Thayer's Gull - third-cycle (center)  with Ring-billed Gulls, Rio Grande, Alameda Open Space, Albuquerque, Bernalillo Co., NM. January 24th, 2014. 
All images above refer to the same individual. 

There was also a good selection of waterfowl on the Rio Grande and the nearby, part-frozen ponds highlighted by perhaps as many as 60 Wood Ducks which became increasingly flighty towards dusk. What a cracking start to my spell in New Mexico!

Wood Ducks - Rio Grande, Alameda Open Space, Albuquerque, Bernalillo Co., NM. 
January 24th, 2014. 

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