22 February 2012

IOS Gull Frolic 2012

The Illinois Ornithological Society held its 11th annual Gull Frolic on Saturday, February 18th. As usual, the turn out was great with over 170 participants - extraordinary birders and extraordinary people.

I had the good pleasure of presenting at this year's event which was truly an honor. This event always fills up pretty fast and registration is limited due to building capacity and fire codes.

Unfortunately, gull numbers were way down this year and this seems to be a direct consequence of the mild winter we're "enjoying" (NOT). The harbor was almost completely ice-free. Fortunately though, the gulls started moving in around 2:30 p.m. where several of us enjoyed the following:

7 Thayer's Gulls (3 adults, 1 4th cycle, 1 3rd cycle, 1 2nd cycle, 1 first cycle - a real "royal flush").
1 Glaucous Gull (1st cycle)
1 Kumlien's Iceland Gull (adult)
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle)

Perhaps the highlight of this year's Frolic - for me - was being "reunited" with this Black-legged Kittiwake:

Amar Ayyash with BLKI
photo courtesy of Carla Schmakel

This kittiwake was an ill bird that Larry Krutulis and I picked up last spring at Montrose Beach (you could read more about this here). It ended up dying the next morning and that was the end of that story for me. While looking through a few gull skins brought to the Frolic by the Field Museum's Doug Stotz, I was told this was the same bird that Larry and I had at Montrose last year. Here it is the day before, premortem:

First cycle Black-legged Kittiwake. Chicago, IL. 31 March 2011.
It's good to know the specimen was retrieved and prepared by the museum for educational purposes.

04 February 2012

A Territorial Kumlien's

An adult Kumlien's Gull is now back at Hammond Marina in Indiana for at least the 4th consecutive year. I don't typically think of our wintering gulls as holding territories, but this one sure does (click here to read more about this behavior):

Adult Kumlien's. Hammond Marina, IN.  28 Jan 2012. 
It's late apperance is probably best explained by the mild winter we've had thus far. In any event, it's great to have such a reliable (and beautiful) Kumlien's to go see whenever I need a quick Iceland fix.