Sunday, December 20, 2015


Today was the Freeport CBC. For twenty years now I've been on the end of the jetty on Quintana Island. I've seen some cool stuff from here. Northern Gannet is almost a sure thing. Generally we get some type of scoter. About every other year I manage a Black Scoter. Black Scoter that is the last scoter I need this year.

I arrive at the jetty at 7 am and quickly scan the large flock of gulls at the base. Nothing but the usual suspects, but I did locate three Franklin's Gulls for a very good bird for the CBC. I make the hike to the end of the jetty, just over a half mile.

I get set up for the morning. Not very long after I get there I spy a couple of Northern Gannets. The conditions are very good for gannets and I anticipate a good number today. That didn't turn out to be the case, These where the only two gannets of the morning. About a half hour later Janet, one of the veterans of the jetty joins me.

Common Tern
There were lots of Forster's Tern working near the end of the jetty. One catches my eye and the dark carpel bar confirms it, A Common Tern is working near by. Eventually two more join it and the three seem always present for the four hours I'm there.

About 9 am ducks start moving. A group of three fly north not very far out. I get a scope on them and yes its my target! Black Scoter is Year Bird 488.

A White-winged Dove hangs
with the Turnstones
More ducks, Redheads, Lesser Scuap, and Northern Pintails. On the very end of the jetty there is an odd site, a White-winged Dove hangs out with the Ruddy Turnstones. We keep looking, you never know what will show up here.

I spot a large bird moving towards us. I ask Janet, is this an Osprey? It finally banks and we see its a large gull. The wing are dark, the head is very white. The tail is white with a dark band. It dwarfs a double crested cormorant it lands near. Janet snaps a picture. Through the scope I can see it has a very large stout bill.

We discuss the identification and we can only reach one conclusion. Great Black-backed Gull becomes Year Bird 489. I write it up for the count. That picture that Janet took becomes the topic of hot discussion. Some feel it doesn't eliminate Lesser Black-backed Gull. The photo get circulated to some other experts and Lesser Black-backed Gull is eliminated and the bird is accepted as a Great Black-backed Gull.

One of the many photogenic Ruddy Turnstones on the Jetty
Ten days left in the year and I need eleven more species. I will have to average more than one species a day to reach my goal. Its going to be tough. At the start of the year I figured I'd need 22 review species to reach 500. The Great Black-backed Gull makes fourteen review species. If I had 22 at this point I would be sitting at 497 and I think 500 would be easy. I have my fingers crossed for a flurry of rarities from CBC's.


  1. Reading this took me back to Kenn Kaufman's Kingbird Highway. Glad your day was more pleasant.

    1. I think of that almost every year. Knew Jim Morgan who's scope was lost and Marilyn Crane who was there. I thought a lot about David Dauphin who I inherited the jetty party from and Steve Gross who spent may years with me there, both who I miss when I'm out there.