05 November 2008

What a Day for Gulls!

Our weather has take a turn for the worse, but that often makes the birding take a turn for the better. Yesterday afternoon Jason Pietrzak found a pale-winged gull at Sue's Ponds, and sent me some photos. I couldn't tell for sure from the photos what it was, so we rushed out there yesterday afternoon to look for it, but couldn't find it. This morning Craig and I tried again, and found just what we were hoping for: an Iceland Gull (Kumlien's subspecies, above, in foreground). This is another species that can be very tough to tell from similar species, so although several records have been submitted to the Bird Records Committee, none have been accepted. This species is usually found from Baffin Island, Canada to Iceland, and winters in the Northeastern United States. We got some good photos this morning, and Jason went back later in the morning and got some even better ones, so it looks possible that we'll have another state record on our hands here!

Almost as amazingly, Jason found another rare gull while he was trying to relocate the Iceland Gull. He posted a photo, and I could tell it was not something from around here, although neither of us could tell what it was for sure from the photo (again). So I went back this afternoon, and so did he, and we were also able to relocate this bird: a Lesser Black-backed Gull! (Photo below by Jason.) If accepted (again, with great photo documentation I expect it will be), this will be only the sixth record of this species in the state! This species is usually found in northwest Europe, and usually winters south into Africa, although they wander to the east coast of North America in some numbers every winter. This made a total of six species of gulls in one day, perhaps more than anyone's seen in the county, with California Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and Bonaparte's Gulls all present today.


Nick Bonomo said...

Ryan, nice example of a Kumlien's Gull. Congrats on the record!

Ryan O'Donnell said...

Thanks, Nick! You've had some pretty good gulls yourself this year!