31 May 2015

Nine Gull Species in May - Wisconsin

For the last two years or so I've been toying with the idea of doing a "Gull Big Day" in the off season, and the Wisconsin, Lake Michigan, lakefront is exactly the place I'd been planning to attempt this. Gull-watching here can be very productive in Spring where a combination of late winter species and hooded species can be seen together.

Last year, I and a few others recorded 8 species in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, Wisconsin without much effort (although I only saw 7 of the 8 species reported by our party). Today, 31 May 2015, I tried to beat 7, making the 3.5 hour trek from Frankfort, IL and starting in Two Rivers, Wisconsin at around 5:00 a.m. I called it quits at 6:15 p.m. in Port Washington after having recorded 9 species:
  1. Ring-billed Gull
  2. Herring Gull
  3. Thayer's Gull (3 - 2 adults, 1 first summer)
  4. Iceland Gull (2 - both first summers)
  5. Great Black-backed Gull (2 - both first summers)
  6. Lesser Black-backed Gull (3 - all first summers)
  7. Bonaparte's Gull
  8. Little Gull (1 - first summer)
  9. Laughing Gull (2 - both adult types)
Not many "glamour" shots below - most are simply doc-photos to help put the day in perspective:

Little Gull (1st cycle ) with Bonaparte's. Manitowoc, WI. 31 May 2015.
Laughing Gulls (adult types). Appeared to be paired up. Courtship gestures observed. Manitowoc, WI. 31 May 2015.
Thayer's Gull (1st cycle). Manitowoc, WI. 31 May 2015. Photo 1 of 3. 
Photo 2 of 3.
Thayer's Gull, lower left. Photo 3 of 3.
Adult Thayer's Gull (left of center in flight) and 1st cycle Thayer's Gull type (in water). Photo 1 of 2.
Interestingly, this adult Thayer's is still holding on to all 10 primaries in late May. Photo 2 of 2.
Iceland Gull (1st cycle). Photo 1 of 3.
Iceland Gull on far left with a Thayer's/Kumlien's type on right - both first summers. Photo 2 of 3.
Iceland Gull in flight. Photo 3 of 3.
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st summer). Sheboygan, WI. 31 May 2015. Photo 1 of 2.
Photo 2 of 2.
Great Black-backed Gull (1st summer). Manitowoc, WI. 31 May 2015. Photo 1 of 2.
Photo 2 of 2.
Two species I was hoping to encounter today were Franklin's and/or Glaucous. I positively do think that 11 species can be achieved on the Wisconsin lakefront on the perfect day. A bonus 12th species is always possible too - Black-headed, Black-legged Kittiwake, and California Gull all come to mind.