18 February 2013

Gull Frolic 2013

The Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS) hosted its 12th annual Gull Frolic this last Saturday, 16 February 2013. As always the event was a huge succes with at least 150 participants. For those not familiar with this event, it takes place at the North Point Marina Yacht Club near the IL/WI state line on Lake Michigan. Besides the great number of winter gulls being viewed at just a few hundred feet away, the inside warms birders with beverages, snacks and a great lunch that includes "Seagull" stew.

This year's talk was by Tara Beveroth. She spoke about the Illinois Spring Bird Count which will soon turn into a two-day count as opposed to the fixed one-day count that's in place now.

 I kept a tentative gull list that I think Ethan Gyllenhall and others will be able to add to, I hope.

11 Thayer's Gulls (all ages represented)
4 Kumlien's Iceland Gulls (all ages represented)
4 Glaucous Gulls (1st, 2nd and adults)
3 Lesser Black-backeds (1st cycle, 2nd cycle, adult)
1 Great Black-backed (adult)
1 Kumlien's/Thayer's Intermediate type (adult)
1 Presumed Nelson's Gull (Herring x Glaucous; adult)
1 Presumed Great Black-backed x Herring (adult; well photographed)

For photos of some these birds, follow this link.

Thanks to all of the volunteers and co-sponsors for making this event possible.

05 February 2013

Gullapalooza 2013!

Co-sponsored by the ABA, Gullapalooza is undoubtedly the biggest "gull" fieldtrip one can attend in the United States, and probably the world (the "official" count was 315 participants, but that number is likely much higher) . For one day only, birders are allowed entrance to the Valmont Reservoir in Boulder County, Colorado. This reservoir is on the property of Excel Energy. Here's what it looked like 30 minutes before the start of the trip as people gathered around at our meeting place:

That's Ted Floyd in the green jacket...we had just arrived about 15 minutes prior and there were already people waiting, 45 minutes before start time! Ted and I spend an enjoyable morning in Gregory Canyon in Boulder Mountain Park...

I needed a few passerines for my life list, of which I checked off four: Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren and American Dipper!!

Here are a few birds that I was able to photograph during my weekend visit:

Adult type LBBG with Herring and Ring-billed. Teller Lake, CO.  03 Feb 2013.
Note that the Lesser has not completed its outer primary growth with the tip to P8 showing. This shot shows P9 and P10 on the underside of the opposite wing:

This molt timing generated some discussion on the Facebook Group "North American Gulls". There are no documented graellsii individuals that have been known to still be growing their outer primaries in February. There are such records of intermedius, fuscus and heuglini birds and is likely present in the paler subspecies grarellsii in the northwest of Africa.

Some Thayer's:

Adult Thayer's feeding on fish carcass. Teller Lake is a small lake that was drained and hence many dead fish made the gulls happy.

1st cycle Thayer's. Teller Lake, CO.
2nd cycle Thayer's. Teller Lake, CO.