|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'!