This afternoon a first-winter Great Black-backed Gull (first reported  
by Terry McNeely) was at Long Branch Lake.

I will be submitting documentation, and encourage others to add to  
the record.  No Glaucous was observed while I was there.

A couple of short stories about today's birding looking for the gull:

When I arrived, about 300 gulls were on the ice near the dam, and I  
began looking through them from the yellow gate at the west end of  
the dam.  About 20 minutes into the unsuccessful search an eagle (who  
had sent the flock into a lazy confetti whirl-around earlier) came in  
with a target in sight.  It zoomed at one of only a couple immature  
Ring-Billed Gulls present.  Every gull took off in a much more  
determined effort than before and headed toward the landfill.  In  
less than 30 seconds, the only gull left over the lake was the imm.  
Ring-bill, being chased by the adult Bald Eagle.

The gull made zigs and zags, basically going in fairly tight circles,  
staying pretty low.  The eagle made several real attempts to snare it  
with its talons.  This went on for nearly two minutes, then a second  
adult Bald Eagle joined the dog fight.  The gull continued the same  
tactics, twice evading talons by less than two feet.  The gull then  
changed its pattern and gained some altitude, making wider circles.   
The first eagle tired; its turns were no longer sharp.  It flapped  
off.  The second eagle continued for another minute, then left as the  
gull headed over the dam.  Total time: just under 5 minutes.  I was  
amazed that it had lasted that long.

With no gulls in sight, I decided to bird the rest of the park and  
come back to the dam later.

At the marina, I could see two small groups of gulls way out on the  
ice.  In the smaller group was one much larger gull.  It was the  
Black-backed.  The other dozen or so gulls flew toward the larger  
group, leaving the GBBG and one adult Ring-billed Gull.  The RBGU  
started walking around the big kid, kinda "naaa, naaa, na-na na!" I'm  
in your face, I'm gonna rile you up.  The GBBG then flew to the far  
side of the other group.

Kathleen & Harold Anderson and Anne Downing drove up and set up  
scopes.  We then watched the GBBG begin picking at something on the  
ice.  A crow came in, showing interest in the morsel.  The gull did a  
short lunge; the crow dodged, then outmaneuvered the gull and grabbed  
the tidbit.  [I really like corvids]

We lost sight of the GBBG when another eagle came in and stirred the  

Kathleen alerted me to a Red-breasted Nuthatch at the front door  
feeder at the Corps building.  I waited quite a while, watching the  
usual suspects.  The RBNU eventually came in from the pines across  
the entrance road, sat in the tree to the left of the feeder, then  
flew to the near tree and then swooped to the feeder, grabbed a seed  
and took it to the first tree to open.  It repeated this set of  
actions for the second seed.

Bodacious birding,

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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