21 December 2014

Michigan City Icelands, Thayer's and Three More Banded Herrings

Gull-watching was rather productive at Michigan City on Saturday. There wasn't much on the beach when I arrived, but gulls soon started trickling in and continued to build up until I departed.

Highlights included 4 Thayer's (3 adults, 2nd cycle), 2 Icelands (both 1st cycles, one intermediate), and 3 banded American Herrings (two 2nd cycles, one adult type).

Kumlien's Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Michigan City, IN. 20 Dec 2014.

Both Kumlien's Iceland Gulls (1st cycles). The individual on the right is somewhat intermediate and shows some dark-wing influence. Whether this qualifies as a Iceland x Thayer's is anyone's guess. Birds like this are not unusual in Newfoundland. See plate 35A.12, but also see plates H5.3, H5.4 and H5.5 in the hybrid section of Howell & Dunn.

Thayer's Gull (2nd cycle). My favorite individual of the day. This bird was a big treat as it snuck up on me and posed for a few minutes. I don't often see 2nd cycle THGUs, let alone one with a paling iris, completed bi-colored bill and with paler tertials like this. 

Note the small mirror on the inner web of p10 - a rather uncommon feature showed on a very small percentage of 2nd cycle smithsonianus.
First cycle Kumlien's (left) with adult type Thayer's Gull (right).
Adult type Thayer's (front) with Herring turned away.
Thayer's with brownish outer web to p10 and brown streaking on greater primary coverts. Near-adult?

Now for the banded Herrings. I was a bit overtaken by all three of these birds, all appearing at more or less the same time. I was successful in recording both band numbers on the 2nd cycles, but the adult had a semi-rotted band that was upside down - impossible!

Band # 1106-26938. Banded in June 2013. Door Co, Wisonsin.

Band # 1106-27230. Banded in June 2013. Door Co, Wisconsin. 

Suffix only: **** -- 91621.
The last 15 or so banded Herrings that I've found between Michigan City, Indiana and New Buffalo, Michigan have all originated from the Sister Bay Islands. I'm beginning to think that the Herrings that arrive on southern Lake Michigan in the Fall/Winter are birds that might not be long-distance migrants. Admittedly though, more data from banded birds in mid-late winter is still needed. The other question to ponder is what happens to the southern Lake Michigan breeders? Do those birds remain here or move to the interior (all the way down through to the Gulf Coast)?