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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Looking for Gulls

With one more species to go to make 200 for the year in Travis County, I headed out east of Austin to the municipal landfill to look for gulls. Unfortunately, the dump itself has been off limits to birders for several years, but often they are visible from roads north of the dump or loafing in neighboring fields. Unfortunately, today the landfill operation was on the west side, with no good visibility, and I was unable to find a Herring Gull. I did see several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and five Franklin's Gulls loafing on the parking lot of the Austin Country Flea Market on US HWY 290. Franklin's Gulls have become regular in Austin during the winter, with a few birds usually found here at the landfill while most of their species is wintering off the Pacific coast of South America.

While driving around the landfill one last time, I found three Brewer's Blackbirds (#200) in a horse pasture on Blue Goose Rd. These birds often hang around livestock pens in winter, and though a bit ignoble, I willingly took them as the milestone birds for this year. Hopefully I'll have time for a few more Travis County birds before moving to PA next week. But there are other birds I'd like to before heading north. I'm really itching to chase the Crimson-collared Grosbeaks that have been hanging out in the Rio Grande Valley this past month!

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