Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prelude to a Gull Workshop

[This is a good gull to dial in on, a first cycle=first winter American Herring Gull. The truth is, most gulls in the east are easy to identify, including this one - if it's big and brown, it's a young Herring Gull, unless it's something quite rare. Pay attention to exact wing pattern on young gulls, e.g. the pale inner primaries and primary coverts forming a pale wedge on Herring. Newburyport, MA yesterday, click to enlarge all photos.]

Dave LaPuma had the adult Black-headed Gull this morning at the mouth of Cox Hall Creek along Delaware Bay. To find this bird, start looking on the beach at the park north of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal, and if it's not there, just work your way north along the bay, looking for Bonaparte's Gulls to sort through. This one is a pretty small individual, and at a distance doesn't exactly jump out of the Bonaparte's Gull flock in hangs with, at least until you get a good look at the underwing. Black-headeds are a bit paler than Bonaparte's, have dark underwing tips that really stand out, a dull red bill, and bright red legs. Scroll down for a photo from an earlier post.

We just got back from our annual Newburyport, MA trip, always delightful winter birding (and sometimes our first look at snow for the year, NOT this year!) And a great place to take photos for the gull workshop next Saturday.

[Second cycle Iceland Gull. Dove like proportions, small size, very pale overall with variably darker primaries. Second cycle because of adult like back feathers and pale bill base. Icelands are fairly easy to find in north coastal MA.]

[Now, how about this one (bird at right)? Pale bird, but quite dark primaries with pale tips, quite dark tertials. . .Scott Whittle picked this one out, and study of the bird and digiscoped photos convinced us it was a second cycle Thayer's Gull. Nile's Pond, MA on Wednesday.]

[See, not all gulls are difficult! Notice the extensive black on the underwing tip of the adult Ring-billed Gull Scott's feeding, a good quick-trick for separating ringbills from adult Herring's when flying overhead. Herrings average much less black.]

No comments: