06 July 2015

First Weekend of July: Lake Michigan

03 July 2015 - Greg Neise and I made several stops along the Wisconsin lakefront (Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers). The season is getting progressively worse with little to no gulls in Port Washington and Sheboygan. This is almost certainly due to the lack of fish die-off.

The gulls at Manitowoc weren't using the south pier when we arrived, but there were gulls on the two defunct cribs south of the south pier, including 2 Great Black-backeds (1st/2nd summer types) and a Glaucous Gull (2nd summer type). We also had our first juvenile Herring of the season (a tad early for a fully fledged HERG to be flying).

R6 only about half-way grown
In Two Rivers, we had a small cooperative group of RBGUs & HERGs south of the Seagull Camp Ground, south of the south river mouth:

2nd basic outer primaries (p6-p10) in fairly good condition. Secondaries and rectrices retained 2nd basic.
All 1st basic rectrices and almost all 1st basic secondaries, retained.
3rd or 4th summer type.
3rd summer type with more markings on tail and tertials than previous individual. Iris also darker and wing coverts with weaker gray pattern.
3rd summer type molting into 3rd basic. Tail feathers, secondaries and p7-p10 retained 2nd basic. Inner greater primary coverts presumably grown in with inner primaries, but 2nd generation gray scaps and new row of median coverts likely 2nd alternate grown in late winter/early spring of this year. 
A different 3rd summer type than the individual above, but similar in that all tail feathers and secondaries are retained 2nd basic. Retained p6-p10. This individual with new patchy marginal coverts grown in (see photo below).
Same individual above. 3rd generation lesser/marginal coverts about 65% grown in.
Although most of the rooftop-nesting Herrings in this area seem to prefer flat roofs, occasionally one can find them on sloped roofs and while scanning a group of resting birds in Two Rivers, we found about 10 pairs nesting on a church:

04 July 2015 - I made a few stops along the Michigan lakefront before our Independence Day get-together. Most of the beaches are loaded with people on this weekend - no surprise - and to top it off, almost all charge out-of-state entrance fees. But one gets lucky sometimes in finding large groups of gulls clustered together in isolated areas away from the heavy beach traffic, and this is exactly what we found in Muskegon. I was hoping for a lingering GBBG or LBBG - no luck. Just more RBGUs and HERGs, but I'm not complaining ;).

Outer primaries still growing as well as two outer rectrices.
Molting into 2nd basic. Retained p7, p9, p10. P8 dropped. Outermost secondary dropped as is (are?) the innermost tertial. Inner greater and lesser wing coverts are yet to come in fully.
Presumably molting into 3rd basic. P6-P10 retained 2nd generation, as are the secondaries and tail feathers. Difficult to be sure which upperwing coverts are 3rd generation, but it appears the marginal/lesser and mid-median coverts are new
Compared to the 3rd summer types from Wisconsin (see above), this Herring has 6 retained 2nd generation primaries and the upperwing covert molt is more delayed (only about 60% of the median coverts are new). All retained 2nd geneation secondaries and tail feathers. Interestingly, this bird shows some marbling on the inner web of the outer tail feather.