11 February 2018

Port Washington Iceland Gull Bonanza

Rebecca Sher from Sheboygan County Audubon got in touch last weekend to tell me about the growing number of gulls in Port Washington. We decided a gull day was in order and quickly put together another winter workshop.

Roughly 1/4 of the congregation with what appeared to be thousands more outside of the harbor.

We held the indoor segment at the local library, which to my surprise, attracted around 40 participants. We then headed out to the harbor where we found upward of 5000 gulls feeding on large quantities of gizzard shad.

Adult type Herring Gull with breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Icelands for Everyone

We found an impressive assortment of Iceland Gulls. Going through my photos, I can make out 27 distinct individuals (14 thayeri, 11 kumlieni, 2 thayeri-kumlieni). More impressive was the variety of intermediate ages, especially 2nd and 3rd cycles.

1st cycle Thayer's

1st cycle Thayer's-Kumlien's type. Pure speculation :)

1st cycle Thayer's type. 

2nd cycle Thayer's type.

1st cycle Kumlien's. 

Same bird above. A frayed and worn bird with what may have been a stress bar across the tail. 

A pale 2nd cycle Thayer's type.

3rd cycle Kumlien's

A large, dark, Thayer's (back) with a smaller and slightly paler adult Thayer's (front).

Adult Thayer's-Kumlien's type with pale wingtip.

Adult Kumlien's with zero pigment on wingtip. The gray upperparts werejust a smidgen paler than Herring, but nowhere near as pale as a Glaucous.

Presumably as pale as Kumlien's gets, but more study needed. 

Same bird above.
And as the light began to fade, we got bombarded with another wave of adult Kumlien's:

Same bird as above. P6 with pale and incomplete band.
A medium-marked Kumlien's with weird subterminal band on P9. See below.

Same bird above. 

A paler adult than the one above. And cuter. 

We also had ~12 Glaucous Gulls with about half adults and half 1st/2nd cycle types.

Adult Glaucous with Herrings scheming...

1st cycle Glaucous Gull hoping to become a postcard.
We had ~ 8 Great Black-backeds and zero luck turning one into "the" Slaty-backed Gull. Lesser Black-backeds were MIA with only 3 birds found (adult and two 1st cycles).

The Wisconsin lakefront is a vast playground filled with great gulls waiting to be found and enjoyed by birders. A big thanks to Rebecca and Sheboygan County Audubon Society for hosting another great outing!