With an extra day off from school this weekend, I made some big birding plans to pick up some rarities that I hadn't seen this year in addition to trying to find something new. By Monday evening, I would say this weekend was a great success!
I began late Saturday morning with a return to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. The second Philadelphia county record of Black-headed Gull was still being seen there, even after a short absence when the refuge impoundment froze over. That was our first target for the morning since I wanted to photograph it further and observe it in 2017 so it would count for my year list. This observation was certainly better than the last as it flew within only a few feet of us, providing stellar looks! Of all the gulls I've ever seen, I love this bird's in flight wingspread pattern the most!
We continued through the refuge to another staked out species - Not one, but TWO Northern Saw-whet Owls! These owls are a highly elusive species that often go undetected since they are masters of camouflage and very small in size. A Northern Saw-whet Owl can be roughly 7-8 inches tall and roughly 2-5 ounces in weight! Below is a photo I snapped of one of the individuals. After seeing how well it was hidden, it's amazing that someone spotted it in the first place!
On our way back around the impoundment, we spotted a whole flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets foraging in the brush along the edge of the trail. I got within a few feet of a few individuals as they actively fed for bugs!
Looks like one caught a bug!
After Heinz, we continued our usual Philadelphia route to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Earlier in the week, a male Redhead was being seen among the Canvasback. No Redhead today, but a male Peregrine Falcon made its presence known, sending the waterfowl into a scurry as it passed quickly overhead and landed on a nearby crane!
In summary, it was a great start to a long-weekend of birding!