10 October 2015

Here We Go - More Thayer's In Early October

I was happy with finding an adult Thayer's last Sunday (04 October 2015) and mildly wrote it off as a fluke - an early arrival for our region. Yesterday, 09 October 2015, I found 3 more adult types in Berrien County, Michigan, some 85 miles to the southeast.

All of the photos below were taken in New Buffalo, Michigan on 09 October 2015.

Thayer's Gulls

Growing P9-P10.
P10 with white tip, retained.
Both P9-P10 retained (see open wing below).
This may be the first time I've observed 2 retained outer primaries on a Thayer's. Further, I feel the wingtip on this individual is intermediate. What you'd like to call this bird is your prerogative. 
I used to think seeing this species on southern Lake Michigan during the first half of November was "early". I then learned late October is a good time to "start" looking for them. This is actually the first year I've made an effort to look for them in early October...and here we go. I'll have to see what next year brings!

Gull Nasty

The putative Chandeleur Gull was present as well. Note the following photos are underexposed and the upperparts appear darker than usual, as you can gauge by looking at the Herrings:

The Herrings appear 1-2 shades too dark, as is so with this presumed Herring x Kelp.
Shown here with a Lesser Black-backed. Leg color is considerably different.
Here's a more balanced image of the upperpart color (compare the contrast of the black wingtip with the rest of the wing):

March, 2015. Michigan City, Indiana.

Would I bet the farm that this is unquestionably a Chandeleur Gull? No. Would I bet half the farm? Yes.

Great Black-backeds

I had a 2nd and 3rd cycle type...

2nd cycle Great Black-backed Gull retrieving preen gland oil.
Feather maintenance at its best.
"Hey, what are you looking at?"
3rd cycle type Great Black-backed Gull (open wing below).
Brown wash to wing coverts and central tail feathers.

And Lessers - 8 Total!

Lesser Black-backeds have peaked on southern Lake Michigan. I've noticed for the last 2 years that they arrive in good numbers in early Fall but then drop off by early December. We may have a North American population that's not as hardy as our Herrings, moving south as soon as we get our first freeze. The fact that their winter stronghold is in Florida may agree with this notion. Although admittedly, there may be several factors that contribute to why this species has favored the Florida coastline in winter.

3rd cycle Great Black-backed with 2nd cycle Lesser Black-backed.
3rd cycle type.
Adult type - showing mirror on retained P10 on opposite wing.
Sub-adult type - no mirror on retained P10 on opposite wing.