Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Landfill of Memories

I was reminiscing today about my spring 2005 trip to the Rio Grande Valley, a mecca for US birders. Aside from the Green Jays, Brown Jays, Chachalacas, Whooping Cranes, and other amazing birds of south Texas, two major spectacles stand out in my mind. One is a huge migrating flock of Broad-winged Hawks that flew over a restaurant parking lot during lunch. We estimated the flock to be 6000+ birds. The second spectacle was a trip to the Corpus Christi Municipal Landfill. When I returned from the trip and told my family and girlfriend that I had flown a couple thousand miles to visit a landfill, I got some interesting looks. But birders know that landfills are magnets for birds, especially gulls.

The Corpus Christi landfill is no exception. I have never seen more gulls in my life. The majority were Laughing Gulls - thousands of them as you can see in the above picture. There were Herring and Ring-billed Gulls in a multitude of plumages interspersed.

Visiting here can be hazardous, so we had to don our blaze orange vests so we wouldn't get run over by a bulldozer.

The sky is a cloud of gulls. We managed to find a lone Franklin's Gull among the flock. Lucky for us, it perched and showed some of its rosy coloration on its breast. When it flew, we could see its unique primary pattern. We searched for Yellow-legged Gull (or is it Yellow-footed Gull???) with no success. A small pond held some shorebirds including Greater Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilt, and American Avocet. A young Crested Caracara was feeding along the shore as well.

So, if you hear about someone birding at a landfill, I say, "Don't knock it until you try it." You are bound to find some interesting birds in this most interesting habitat.


Larry said...

-No doubt! I get upset when I hear trash talk about landfills.-looks like this one had lots of birds.

I'd like to see the Caracara some day.I've gone on field trips to look for gulls.-Godd for Vultures and Turkeys too.

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