31 August 2017

Monthly Notables August 2017

  • Heermann's Gull (adult). Imperial County, California. 02 August 2017.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Imperial County, California. 02 August 2017.
  • Little Gull (1st summer). Niagara County, Ontario. 03 August 2017.
    • A high count of 17 individuals, primarily 1st summers with a couple of adults. Numbers building all summer. 
  • Laughing Gull (1st summer). Sept-Rivières County, Quebec. 03 August 2017.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3rd cycle type). Cass County, North Dakota. 05 August 2017.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Los Angeles County, California. 10 August 2017.
  • Little Gull (juveniles). Kiowa County, Colorado. 13 August 2017.
    • High count of 7 individuals in one view. 
  • Mew Gull (adult type). Loveland County, Colorado. 14 August 2017.
    • 2nd consecutive year the species has been recorded in north-central Colorado in August.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). Suffolk County, New York. 14 August 2017.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult). Fremont County, Wyoming. 16 August 2017.
  • Sabine's Gull (adult & juvenile). Barnstable County, Massachusetts. 19 August 2017.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle). Mason County, Illinois. 19 August 2017.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult type). Sweetwater County, Wyoming. 21 August 2017.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (juvenile). Ottawa County, Michigan. 24 August 2017.
    • Although sub-adults regularly summer here, this brilliantly fresh juvenile is curious. 
  • Sabine's Gull (juvenile). Travis County, Texas. 27 August 2017.
  • California Gull (Adult). Bristol County, Massachusetts. 31 August 2017.
  • SWALLOW-TAILED GULL (ADULT). King County, Washington. 31 August 2017.
    • Mega. First state record for Washington.

Miscellaneous Notes:
  1. Topping the list of notes this month is the adult Swallow-tailed Gull found on the last day of the month. With only two previous ABA records (both from California), this Seattle, Washington sighting now constitutes the northernmost occurrence in the world. The bird spent most of the day loafing on the beach with California Gulls at Carkeek Park. 
  2. Juvenile Heermann's Gulls appeared to have bounced back, approaching close-to-normal numbers this season. 
  3. Miami-Dade County had up to 13 summering Lesser Black-backed Gulls this month - these are lower numbers than the last Augusts. As we're seeing everywhere with this species, summer numbers are inconsistent from year to year.
  4. The putative Chandeleur Gull from southern Lake Michigan is back a bit early this season, spotted in Berrien County, Michigan on 26 August 2017.
  5. The high count of 7 juvenile Little Gulls recorded in Kiowa County, Colorado is intriguing to say the least. This early push of young birds, well west of the Mississippi River, suggests the species may be extending its breeding range on the North American continent.

August 2017 Quiz

This neat duo appears to be about half way done with primary molt. Thus, we can safely assume these estival plumage aspects were captured in the midst of the breeding season. The smaller bird on the left has a complete dark trailing edge to the secondaries and a complete tail band - a typical 1st summer "small gull". The larger and darker gull on the right also has vestiges of brown secondaries and retained 1st generation outer primaries - also indicative of a bird in its 1st summer.

The paler bird on the left has a tern-like bill and complete black trailing edge. The light gray upperparts and black ear-spot point to Bonaparte's Gull.

The larger bird with darker gray upperparts has a blunt bill that is proportionately large. Note how significant the bill shape and size is, as well as the shade of gray, when identifying these two. The black post-ocular smudge on the larger bird also hints at a hooded species. Its long pointed hand seems perfectly in line with Laughing Gull, and that's what it is indeed.

This 1st summer Bonaparte's and Laughing Gull are roughly a year old, and are assumed to be nonbreeders. Both birds are undergoing their 2nd prebasic molts Cape Cod, Massachusetts. July. 

01 August 2017

Monthly Notables July 2017

  • Iceland Gull (1st summer). Suffolk County, New York. 01 July 2017.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull (1st summer). Riverside County, California. 03 July 2017.
  • Black-headed Gull (1st summer). Wheatly, Ontario. 08 July 2017.
  • Laughing Gull (1st summer). Kiowa County, Colorado. 09 July 2017.
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1st summer). Toronto, Ontario. 13 July 2017.
  • California Gull (3rd summer type). Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. 14 July 2017.
    • 2nd summer record for state.
  • Franklin's Gull (1st summer type). Essex County, Massachusetts. 20 July 2017.
  • Great Black-backed Gull (adult type). LaPorte County, Indiana. 20 July 2017.
  • Franklin's Gull (adult type). Eddy County, New Mexico. 23 July 2017.
  • Mew Gull (adult). Cascade County, Montana. 23 July 2017.
  • Ring-billed Gull (adult). Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon County, Alaska. 24 July 2017.
  • Laughing Gull (adult). Notre Dame Bay-Lewisporte County, Newfoundland. 27 July 2017.

1. A Great Lakes high count of 69 Lesser Black-backed Gulls was recorded in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on 14 July 2017. This site (North Point) has seen an increase in numbers of this species in the last 4 years, with mostly 1st and 2nd summer individuals present. This is a seasonal phenomenon brought on by a short bout of dying alewives near shore. No definitive adults present.
2. Multiple juvenile Heermann's Gulls were reported along the California coast this month with a high of 34 individuals in San Mateo County on 28 July 2017.

July 2017 Quiz

Age: The plain wing coverts, admixture of adult-like gray scapulars, single adult-like upper tertial and rounded primary tips all suggest a 2nd cycle type large gull.

Identification: The smudgy head, neck and breast appearance is reminiscent of Glaucous-winged Gull. The "muddy" plumage aspect to the upperparts is as if the bird was powdered with soot. Retaining a largely dark bill into 2nd cycle is also quite common for many Glaucous-wingeds. The only feature on this bird that raises some suspicion as to whether it may be a "pure" Glaucous-winged, is the paling iris. Most Glaucous-wingeds retain a dark eye, but some exceptional birds take on a pale eye (usually as they age, and not quite this young).

It helps to know that this bird was photographed in Grays Harbor, Washington. December. There is a large chance of some Western Gull genes at play, with a smaller chance of Herring Gull involvement. The very dark primaries may be viewed by some as a blocker for Glaucous-winged, but I don't see them as a problem for a bird with such closely matching tertials and greater coverts.

For what it's worth, here's what would be "safely" identified as a "classic" 2nd cycle Glaucous-winged. Seattle, Washington. January.

At any rate, we will settle for Glaucous-winged Gull for our July Quiz, with the unverifiable chance of some outside influence.