Neck Road at the Madison/Guilford line. We know
Update: This sub-adult Gull was banded on 12/27/2011 at the Blackstone WTP in Milbury, Mass. The red leg flag numbers are- 262, Fed band # 0994-04390. This Gull has been hanging around the Guilford town dock and beach. I saw it again on Grass Island on March 02.
I knew this Gull was hungry, and sooner or later it would join in the feeding frenzy. After a few more scoops tossed on the beach, the Iceland Gull which was now perched on the roof of one of the cottages, made a wide swing over the sandbar and then passed within a few feet of me and landed just on the edge of the food. This bird was stunning!
Leetes Island Road on the hill overlooking Lost Lake (through the trees and over the railroad tracks). There was a good movement of Gulls in the
We left, and soon found ourselves at the boat ramp inGulls on the ramp, parking lot, in the water and circling overhead (thanks to the bagel man who was there). We searched through as many Gulls as we could, but did not find any unusal Gulls. Out in the Harbor were three large rafts of Scaup (estimate-3,000) and 1000 + Brant.
. We found several hundred West Haven
Driving along the West Haven Beaches towards Woodmont, there were good numbers of roosting Gulls in the usual places such as
Bradley Pointand . We only stopped for a casual look through the birds; nothing jumped out at us. Oyster River Beach
Our next stop was in
The bird usually sits on the piling at the end of a small jetty that is just to the right of the smallbeach by the cottages. When we drove up, the bird was not on the piling. If the Gull is not on the piling, than its second favorite roosting spot is on the beach behind the small jetty to the west. After seeking permission from a nearby resident to cross the small beach to the high tide line (which was given), I walked carefully over to the jetty (below the high water mark) and slowly peeked over the top. Expecting to find the Iceland Gull standing proudly on the beach, I readied my camera. What I found was an empty beach! I turned around and started back for our truck. I noticed a small swirling group of Gulls flying over the beach in front of our truck. As I looked up, there were those beautiful white wings! The Iceland Gull glided effortlessly over the beach with the grace of a falling snowflake carried gently on the wind. I took a few quick shots and then pointed up to the bird so Jen could see the bird from the truck.
I soon realized why the Gulls were circling the beach. Jen was out of the truck tossing a bit ofcatfood on the beach. In the meantime a few birders including notable CT birder/photographer Paul Fusco had congregated by our truck enjoying the very close views of the Gull and marveling at the bird’s personable nature joining the other Gulls on the beach.
Where was the Gull in the first place? When I walked over to the jetty searching for the Gullthat is “always on that small beach” (which wasn’t there) Jen looked to the left of the small cottage at the end of the road near where our truck was parked. She was looking through the support pilings of the house/cottage and noticed that one of the Gulls on the beach had bright pink legs. Immediately she knew that it was the Iceland Gull, and she decided to try and entice the bird out in front on the beach, and that is exactly what happened (that is when I saw it).
They have figured out where the buffet is!
After enjoying this stunning Gull for a few more minutes, we decided to go west to our next location. The Gull made a few fly-bys and settled in on the beach again. We said good-bye to the other birders and of course to the Iceland Gull now that Jen had finally seen it.
On two previous occasions we tried for the reported Lesser Black-backed Gull in Southport at
He told me that he had just gotten there and had begun looking. He looked down the beach and said there is a black-backed Gull standing all by himself. I looked through his scope and thanked him- he just found the Lesser Black-backed Gull! I asked him if it would be OK if Jen and I walked down the beach to see if we could get a little closer for photos. Rich mentioned it was fine with him, so Jen and I started our slow walk. We stopped to take a few distance shots about fifty yards form the Gull.
When a man approached us walking his three dogs, the Gull decided that it wanted to join the other roosting Gulls on the point by the old wooden jetty. The Gull flew right by us within a few yards giving me these nice passing shots. It landed with the other resting Gulls on the small rocky sandbar in front of the parking area that was exposed by the low tide.
With a little “coaxing” the Gulls flew up to the beach where we were standing and landed within a few yards of us. The Lesser Black-backed however, circled the parking lot a few times, but landed in the water just off the beach.
It took off for a second time and circled the beach again, only to land back in the water, but this time much closer to us.
Soon its curiosity got the best of the Gull and it decided to join the other Gulls on the beach for a late lunch. It landed within ten feet of us; I mentioned to Rich that he probably wouldn’t need his scope at that point.
After a half an hour of watching and admiring this regal Gull, we said good-bye to Rich and to Larus fuscus and we headed back east. What a great day gulling in CT on a Sunday; we had sighted four
New Haven, Long Wharf(behind ’s)- A few hundred Scaup (mostly Greater), 50 Ruddies, 40 Gadwall, 50 Black Ducks and Mallards, and a few Oldsquaw in the channel. Leon
We stopped back in
A Little More Ice and a Snow White Cap!
Monday 13th- Since the opportunity of these Iceland Gulls was presenting themselves almost
in my back yard, I wanted to go back to
With the next offering from me, the bird lifted flew up off the water and landed right on the beach with all the other Gulls. This usually timid adult Gull has learned to become a bit more aggressive, and it bullied its way into the middle of the pack of feeding Gulls within a few feet of where I was standing.
Now that this Gull had become less wary and a bit more trusting of me, I was able to spend agreat deal of time watching, studying and learning the nature of this Gull. Not only did I absorb the physical features of this Gull, but I learned a great deal about its personality and character traits. All of these features are important for me as an artist since I will be carving many Iceland Gulls in the near future. This bird has presented me with a wonderful gift, a gift that I humbly appreciate and cherish.
After a good breakfast, it was time for a bath…….
…..a good yawn…….
…..and a bit of grooming.
I spent about an hour with the Gull, and went over to chat with Mr. F. one of the neighbors.
He was so happy that these “rare” visitors to the area were spending part of the winter on their beach, and that I was enjoying them so much. Mr. F. is on the board of the Faulkner’s Island Brigade. I carved a Roseate Tern for them for their fundraising efforts and ironically, he is taking care of my carving until the raffle is announced. I showed him some of the images I took of the Gull on my camera’s LED screen, and he like me thought the Gull was stunning. Behind his home on the marsh, the osprey platform is 75 feet from his back deck. He enjoys watching them all spring and summer especially the young growing up and admits he is a bit sad to see them go when they fledge in the late summer. He told me that the birds return every year on March 27th! Mr. F. invited me back to watch and photograph the birds from his upper deck; that way you can see right into the nest! I graciously accepted his very generous invitation; it will be an exciting experience.
While we were watching the Gull, Bob MacDonnell –
Ice and a little bit of Rain!
Tuesday 14th- Heading back toovercast and light rain was forecasted. As I was driving down Neck Road, I was thinking about the Iceland Gulls. They always seem to “show up” on the beach when I start feeding the other Gulls. They always come from the east. Since this species seems to be a bit independent from the other species seeking an isolated stretch of beach for a roost, maybe the bird(s) are on a different beach at night. As I turned the corner where Neck Rd. (actually changes to Ridgewood Ave. -but the locals still refer to it as Neck Rd.) changes over to Circle Beach Rd., I looked over on the small cove beach by the first cottage. There it was! The adult Iceland Gull was standing all alone on the beach.
in the morning I arrived at dawn again. It was Circle Beach
Apparently this beach was the turf of a Herring Gull. The Herring Gull decided to chase theIceland Gull off its beach. After a short chase, the Iceland Gull disappeared around the point heading east.
As I started my routine, the Iceland Gull appeared after a few minutes and joined the other Gulls on the beach.
It looks like they are starting to figure out what I have in the orange bucket.
The light rain ended, so I drove down the road the short distance to
When I left around 8:30 am, the adult was standing on the edge of the beach near the last cottage, again all by himself.
Thursday 16th- Adult Iceland Gull continues…
Saturday 18th- (This was the day that Jen and I hosted our “come-along with us” birding adventure to
Bullies never win!
Sunday 19th- Jen and I had an hour to spend before running our errands, so we decided tomake another quick stop to
While we were standing there, a second winter Herring Gull thought it was the master of the
beach. It chased the adult Iceland Gull from a small patch of water real estate that it assumed was his or hers. The Iceland Gull flew a few feet and landed in front of us; the confrontation was over.
What seemed like a moment later, this young bird tried the same advances on an adult
Herring Gull, the outcome was much different!
Now that that young bully was escorted away, it was safe to go back in the water!
As Jen and I got back to our truck to leave, this beautiful Harrier skimmed over the marsh,it was a great ending to the short but adventure packed birding outing.
A little bit of Winter Color!
.....and this Field Sparrow.
Since the Iceland Gulls have settled in to the Madison area (thanks again to Nick and Carolyn for finding the adult) many have asked me for a few tips and field marks or "what to look for" when trying to find this bird at Circle Beach or any other location. In this last chapter of this report, I figured a game of "Where's Waldo" would be a good way to help those who have a bit of a problem singling out this species in a whole bunch of Gulls.
First lets look at the important field marks that makes this unique species so unique. The best field mark would be (but not alway limited to) the white or light primaries with the pale grey marginal stain on the Madison birds-
Here is the adult-
The head shape of the Iceland Gulls are gently rounded, with a soft expression to its eye (pale yellow on the adult, darl brown on the first winter). The smallish bill on the adult is a pale yellow, while the first winter bird has a black bill fading to gray near its basal end.