11 February 2008

Biggest Find So Far

Last night I was going through some of the photos from the weekend, trying to practice my gull identification skills on birds that were frozen in pixels so that I could be better at identifying the live birds. Most of the birds I had photographed at the Logan Landfill and Logan Fish Hatchery on Saturday with Stephanie were clearly identifiable as California Gulls or, more often, Ring-billed Gulls. I was even able to identify at least one second-winter Herring Gull in the photographs, a bird that Stephanie and I had both noticed was clearly not one of the other two more common species but that we weren't sure about identifying in the field. One other gull in the photos was giving me trouble, though. It had a wing pattern that was clearly not a Ring-billed Gull but seemed too small and otherwise not quite right for a California Gull. It was an immature bird, making identification even harder. Eventually I sent photos to two birding friends of mine, Craig Fosdick and Tim Avery. Tim quickly responded to tell me that I had photographed a Mew Gull! I hadn't even considered this species, since it was so rare in the area, but when I went back through my photos, it was a perfect fit. This was quite a find for the area - I believe this is only the second record ever of the species in Cache County, and the first since 1991!

1 comment:

Ryan O'Donnell said...

Update: this bird was discussed in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune! Here is a link to the article (6MB)