18 February 2018

IOS Gull Frolic 2018

The 17th Annual Illinois Ornithological Society Gull Frolic was held on Saturday, 17 February 2018, at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club in Lake County.

Over 150 participants attended along with a number of local bird clubs and organizations. Our guest speaker, Jennifer Brumfield, absolutely rocked and pumped birders with a ton of inspiration!

IOS Vice President Ted Wolff greeting the group before Jen's talk.

Donnie Dann receiving a recognition award from IOS President Matthew Cvetas.

We enjoyed mid-30s most of the day with very little wind - perfect weather when compared to last year's 50F that left us with no ice and no gulls.

A selection of gulls, terns and jaegers displayed by Doug Stotz with the Field Museum.

We had a fun assortment of Iceland Gulls, and also checked off our "other" winter gulls.

Lake Erie meets Lake Michigan.
Left to Right: Amar Ayyash, Chuck Slusarczyk Jr, Jen Brumfield

Enough gulls to busy the crowd!

I must say with this being our first winter where thayeri is lumped with the other Iceland Gulls, there wasn't mass confusion some people predicted there might be. Dark birds were called Thayer's and pale birds were called Kumlien's (as we've done for some years). Confusing birds weren't labeled, but rather explained as "points" on the cline. Here's my list:

16 x Iceland Gulls
  • 11 thayeri (7 adults, 2 first cycle, 2 second cycle)
  • 4 kumlieni (3 adults, 1 sub-adult)
  • 1 thayeri-kumlieni (3rd cycle type)
1 x Glaucous Gull (adult)
1 x Great Black-backed Gull (2nd cycle)
3 x Lesser Black-backed Gulls (adult, 2 third cycles)
550 x Herring Gulls (including a stunning leucistic adult)
18 x Ring-billed Gulls (only 1 first cycle noted)


Adult 1

Adult 2

Adult 3

Adult 4

Adult 5

Adult 6. I observed this distinctive bird at the
Lake County Fairgrounds the day before. See below.

Some damage to the right wing with p8 ripped off.

Adult 6 seen at LCF, Friday, 16 Feb 2018.

2nd cycle Thayer's. Flight shot below.

Somewhat pale but bleaching and fading has set in.

One of two 1st cycle Thayer's. Same individual below.

1st cycle Thayer's (left) and Herring Gull (right).
Chuck Slusarczyk Jr shared a photo of a Thayer's that brought the total up to 7 adults. Incidentally, this was the same adult with broken p6 band that I observed at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Friday, 16 February 2018. In fact, 3 of the 5 Iceland Gulls from my Friday LCF visit were in attendance at the Gull Frolic. A 30 mile roundtrip flight!

Adult #7 Same bird above.


Adult 1. Early Morning bird.

Same individual above.

Adult 2. Mid-day Bird.

Same bird above.

Adult 3. Late-day bird. Stunner!

An adult type Kumlien's with a pale eye and mascara.
Perhaps best aged as a sub-adult.

Same bird above. Brown wash to p-coverts and dirty alula.

An intermediate thayeri-kumlieni 3rd cycle type. 

Other Stuff

3rd cycle Lesser Black-backed with missing p9/10 on right wing.

Adult Glaucous with same Lesser above.

1st cycle Ring-billed Gull.

An apparent leucistic adult Herring Gull only
seen by the early morning crowd.

 2nd cycle Great Black-backed with Herrings. 

Adult Thayer's, Adult Glaucous and 3rd cycle Lesser Black-backed with a group of Herrings.

Ten of us stuck it out until about 4:30 pm, at which time the snow coming down on our optics made viewing difficult. The roads were becoming increasingly messy and so we called it quits while we were ahead. Happy smiles all around.

Thanks to all who attended. See you next year!!