21 February 2011

Gull Frolic 2011

The Gull Frolic is an annual event hosted by the Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS) with the sponsorship of local bird clubs, organizations and generous individuals. It usually takes place on the 3rd Saturday of February at the premier Illinois gull-watching hotspot "North Point Marina". The event is housed inside the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club. Here birders are afforded much more than watching gulls from the outdoor boardwalk; inside, one can sit in on an informative gull lecture, examine various gull specimens, and best of all, warm up and catch up with friends. Oh, did I mention the food? No one goes hungry at the frolic. 

This year's "10th annual" Gull Frolic was another success with guest speaker Alvaro Jaramillo educating and entertaining the crowd. In fact, the event has drawn so many people in the last several years that it's now "pre-registration only" and is limited to 200 individuals due to building capacity.

From this year's birds, this nearly all-white winged 3rd cycle Kumlien's raised a lot of eyebrows:

There is always the hope that a nominate L.g glaucoides will present itself, but as far as I know, no such record has been substantiated on Lake Michigan. 

Here are some other gulls that I was able to photograph:

                                                                1st cycle Thayer's Gull.

                                                               Same individual as above.

                                                                  Adult Thayer's Gull

                                                                 Same individual as above.

This next adult bird is a bit problematic for me. For now, my tentative ID is a Thayer's/Kumlien's intergrade:

                                                             Thayer's/Kumlien's intergrade type.

The wingtips looked too pale for a Thayer's Gull next to this American Herring Gull. Also note paler mantle shade and the larger apical spots. One could easily argue the bill and head size/shape fits well for Kumlien's or a fm Thayer's:

There were 3 Glaucous Gulls seen (1 adult, 2nd cycle, 1st cycle), but surprisingly, we missed LBBG and GBBG completely! The next morning, Eric Walters found 4 adult GBBGs that came in together - go figure! I'm looking forward to next year - see you then!