New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mono-chromatic Sunday

     Sunday, October 15, 2012- Killingworth and Madison, CT-  After picking up my Mother in Meriden, we were driving down to Jen's parents beach cottage in Madison for a family get together. On the way back through Killingworth near our home, this Raven was perched on a brick wall post along the edge of the road. Here are a few close-up shots taken from my truck through my open window-

       After a nice lunch and conversation, I walked out onto the deck to look for birds on the beach and outer rock islets and ledges (something Jen and I always do). Armed with a handful of leftover rolls, I started tossing small chunks of bread to the small group of Herring, 1 Greater Black-backed , 5 Ring-billed and 1 Laughing Gulls that had gathered on my In-Laws small private beach.

     The Gulls of course enjoyed the hand-outs and started to stir things up a bit. Outside I spotted a small group of Ring-billed Gulls heading towards Faulkner's Island. In the group was a single all white Gull which was slightly larger than the Ring-billed Gulls. I immediately thought Iceland Gull, and the Gulls turned towards the beach. I ran in the cottage to get my camera, and when I returned out on the deck, the Gull was standing with the other Gulls on the beach looking for hand-outs.

      The Gull exhibited Iceland Gull behaviour by staying at the peripheral of all the Gulls, but would be  aggressive occasionally reaching in for a piece of food-

      For nearly a half an hour the Gull mingled with the other Gulls and would stay just on the edge of the flocked Gulls on the beach. It wondered into the water once and a while to get a drink-

     As I watched the Gull for awhile, it still exhibited Iceland Gull characteristics, but the head seemed to have a "Herring-Gull-ish" look. It walked in and out of the water and then returned to the beach by the deck........

         ......and would get up the nerve once or twice to move a Herring Gull along-

        Then back up the beach for more offerings-

      I kept looking at the Gull and started thinking it may be a leucistic Gull or a possible Iceland Gull hybrid?? Since no documented Iceland Gull x Herring Gull hybrids have been recorded, I realized it wasn't a possibility. But, although the head shape did have Herring Gull features such as a long sloping forehead, and sharp gonydial angle on the mandible, that wasn't convincing me either.........

       .........I have seen and photographed many "unusual" Iceland Gulls that feature a "Herring Gull-ish" head which features a long sloping forehead and sharp gonydial angle on the mandible (such as this one I photographed in Gloucester this past spring)-

     And when the Gull swam in the water, it looked more like an Iceland Gull than a Herring Gull.....

     .....another Iceland Gull I photographed in Gloucester for comparison. (Iceland Gull above, Madison Gull below)-    

      After a photo review by Patrick Comins, Nick Bonomo, Mark Szantyr, Steve Mirick and Greg Hanisek, the consensus was that the Gull was a luecistic Herring Gull.....but I can't help feeling that there may be a little Iceland Gull in this bird somewhere.....It's the artist in me!!

       Check back in a few days for a complete report with many images of the Wood Sandpiper spotted in Rhode Island found by Carlos Pedro.

Keith Mueller
Killingworth, CT