Over two years ago, when I was doing a New York State Big Year, one of the birds that I tried to see but managed to dip was a Common Gull Larus canus that was hanging out in Brooklyn.  Since then I have seen a Common Gull in California where they are referred to as Mew Gulls (in fact, the IOC and the ABA refer to the species as Mew Gull but I prefer Common Gull, particularly because the individuals showing up in Brooklyn are more likely to be from Europe, where Larus canus has long been called Common Gull) and in Kazakhstan.  I still have not seen one in New York.  So I was delighted to see on the birding listservs that Shane Blodgett, who you’ll remember from my brush with becoming a swamp thing among other adventures, had managed to find a Common Gull in Brooklyn in the horrendous rain and wind and cold that occurred the day after Christmas.  I was even more delighted that the bird stuck around long enough for me to take a run at it Tuesday morning with Gary and Jean, stalwart members of the Queens County Bird Club.

A little bit less delightful were the freezing cold temperatures and strong winds out of the northwest that left wind chills below ten degrees Fahrenheit.  Nonetheless, we were on the Brooklyn waterfront just east of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge searching for the out-of-place gull as soon as we could find parking and walk the walkway over the Belt Parkway.

We scanned through the hordes of Ring-billed Gulls with no luck.  We chummed with stale bread and cheerios with no luck.  We scouted for intelligence from other birders looking for the bird with no luck.  Essentially, we had no luck and no bird.  This has not been a good month for me when it comes to any gull other than Ring-billed Gulls.  Small consolations came in the form of my first-for-Brooklyn Common Goldeneye and a wing-tagged, first-winter Ring-billed Gull that I have reported in the proper place.  I’ll post when I get a report as to where the bird was tagged.

Our ride back to Queens was greatly extended by horrific traffic on the Belt Parkway.  Bad traffic is annoying enough after finding the bird but being delayed by over an hour after dipping is just plain cruel.

Oh well, wait ’til the next Common Gull shows up in Brooklyn.  I’ll be ready for that one!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.