Little Gull and Sandhill Crane – Centre County

Alex LamoreauxBird Finding Tips, Bird Sightings, Birding, birds in flight, Migration, Photography, Rarities4 Comments

This morning, was the last official weekend trip for the PSU Ornithology class and we hit the jackpot. Our first stop of the morning was to Julian Wetlands where we had the usual wetlands birds such as Virginia Rail, Tree Swallow, and Blue-winged Teal – nothing out of the ordinary. Our second stop was to Curtin Wetlands. As soon as we arrived, we hear the unmistakable call of a Sandhill Crane and then seconds later, Drew spotted the bird as it flew up in front of us and circled the area and unfortunately flew out of view to the east. Luckily, about 20 minutes later the crane flew back in and landed in the wetlands, which offered everyone great looks at this very rare visitor to Centre County. Sandhill Cranes have become a ‘regular’ visitor to the county, with a record of a single bird or a group of birds roughly once per year.
Our last stop of the morning was to Bald Eagle State Park’s Lower Greens Run area. As soon as we arrived, we could see over 200 Bonaparte’s Gulls flying around the area as well as a few Caspian Terns and one Forster’s Tern. I scanned through the Bonaparte’s Gulls, trying to get an exact count and I spotted a smaller gull with black markings on it. My impression was that it could be a Little Gull, but since that would be a first ever record for the county, I wanted Drew’s opinion. Luckily, Drew and many others were able to get on the bird quickly and it was indeed an immature Little Gull! This is only the fourth record of a Little Gull in central PA and the first-ever for Centre County. Below are a few photos that I took of the Little Gull and the Sandhill Crane!

Little Gull - immature at BESP Lower Greens Run (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Little Gull - immature at BESP Lower Greens Run (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Little Gull - immature at BESP Lower Greens Run (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Bonaparte's Gull (left) and Little Gull (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Sandhill Crane - landing at Curtin Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Sandhill Crane - Curtin Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)