20 October 2014

First of The Season Thayer's

Saturday, 18-Oct-2014, was our first notable gull movement here on the south rim of Lake Michigan. We tallied 8 species at the Miller Beach Lakewatch, with Thayer's Gull and Laughing Gull being the most interesting larids.

Lakewatches are fun...even in the rain.

Birders tallied 4 Thayer's Gulls, which is apparently an Indiana state "day" high count for October.

Juvenile Thayer's with Ring-billed Gulls. Gary, IN. 18 OCT 2014.
Decent numbers of Herrings were streaming by (mainly from east to west), with the occasional black-backed species and Franklin's mixed in. A species that's become tougher to detect on southern Lake Michigan is Laughing Gull. I'd estimate that roughly 1 is seen on the lakefront for every 10 or so being seen inland these days. So it was a nice treat to have a 1st cycle come down the beach over the breakers, just 5 minutes after a couple of similar-aged Franklin's were seen cruising by:

Franklin's (top). Laughing (bottom).
Photos heavily cropped and lightened.
 Down on the beach a 2nd cycle and 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed came in to feed:

LBBG (1st cycle). Gary, IN. 18 OCT 2014.
To end our day, I was joined by visiting California gull enthusiasts, Noah Arthur, in New Buffalo for a couple of more hours of gull study. Highlights here were 2 Great Black-backeds (1st cycle and 2nd cycle):

GBBG (1st cycle). New Buffalo, MI. 18 OCT 2014.

GBBG (2nd cycle). New Buffalo, MI. 18 OCT 2014.
Much to my surprsie we saw zero LBBGs or white-wingers, but we found plenty of interesting Herrings for Noah to conjecture about - birds with much bigger bodies and lighter-marked primaries than he's used to seeing out West:
Herring Gull (adult type). New Buffalo, MI. 18 OCT 2014.
Slaty-colored wingtip with relatively extensive white pattern.
Another Herring that got Noah's attention was this 1st cycle with an old-world tail pattern:

I've seen Smith's with limited pigmentation up the outer tail feathers, but this one is really pushing the limits! 

All in all, it was an adrenaline-producing day and a fine way to get the season rollin'!