The edge of the spillway at Cohoes Flats has become one of my favorite birding spots. A wide concrete ledge affords an overview of rocks and running water otherwise hidden.
The birds don’t seem bothered by my presence up there and go about their business.
My goal in this particular day was a pair of Bonaparte’s Gulls (year bird #206). Ring-billed Gulls usually look almost delicate compared to Herring and Great Black-backs, but the Boneys are little larger than terns. In summer plumage they sport bold black hoods but by winter it’s reduced to a spot and a smudge. They foraged actively, paddling and ducking their heads underwater. When the hundred or so gulls got spooked into the air by a Peregrine, the Bonaparte’s flight was light and agile, again like a tern.
Interesting facts: Unlike most gulls, Boneys nest in conifers. They were named not for the Emperor, but for his nephew Prince Charles Lucien.
They’re on my list of ‘Birds I should maybe count as new since I haven’t seen one in 25 years, and did I ever see it in New York anyway?’ My listing is getting more complicated.