Anyway, on this day the weather felt more like January than March. While we didn't have to deal with any snow (this was the calm before the blizzard), temps were cold and a brisk wind did not help. That didn't keep us from a really interesting day of gull study.
In the end we recorded six gull species on this day. In addition to the three guaranteed species (Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed), we had two Bonaparte's Gulls (these should become much more numerous in a matter of days), four Iceland Gulls, and one Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Adult "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull at Seaside Park in Bridgeport:
|with Herring Gull|
Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Burying Hill Beach in Westport:
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
We also had two very interesting Ring-billed Gulls - one young bird with a Common Gull-like feel to it, and one "white-winged" adult with very little black in the primaries.
First, the Common Gull mimic. This bird stood out among a flock of ~500 Ring-bills by its tiny bill, more rounded head, slight frame and thin legs. We studied this bird for a while, and I really struggled with it. The flock left the beach to feed offshore and we never did see or photograph it in flight. Despite the structural similarity to "Common" Mew Gull, I really think that this was just a runt Ring-billed Gull. While not terribly apparent in the photos, the incoming scaps were every bit as pale as on the surrounding Ring-bills, and most were fringed in white. These two features are pro-RBGU and I think are key on this bird that was otherwise lacking in plumage clues. The wing coverts were rather worn/faded and of little help, and we never got a look at tail pattern. I'm happy to receive comments on these photos.
We spotted this adult Ringer and noticed that it had a huge amount of white to the folded wingtip. Flight views of the wing were impressive.
|"white-winged" Ring-billed Gull|
Toward the end of the day we found ourselves at Southport Beach in Fairfield, well-known low tide gull roost, especially for Bonaparte's Gull flocks as April approaches. While there weren't many gulls on this day, young birder Aidan Kiley had found a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE here the day before. It was still there when we arrived. A nice way to wrap up the day!
|young birders photographing LBBG|