Today provided promise of great lakewatching, with continued blustery winds of the northnw persuasion, and nearzero temps. What better place to be than atop a manmade bluff – our seventh-floor lakefront balcony – to witness the nearshore gull and waterbird flight. While the gulls and ducks came in numbers, as expected, I had no luck picking out much unordinary in about an hour. The highlight was a strong Great Black-backed Gull flight which continued throughout the day:
Common Merganser 100
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 ad
Great Black-backed Gull 94
Bald Eagle 3
I headed out to check what had dropped into the harbor, and passed Jefferson Middle School first where the Merlin zipped in front of my car.
There wasn’t much happening on the west side of the river larid-wise, but millions of mergansers have again moved back into the harbor and a few scaup & Ruddy Ducks joined the mix. I ran into our resident photographer Chuck, who reported a Glaucous Gull over here.
Emil & I found most our gulls within the actual harbor – the Spitzer Marina – on the east side of the river, which is where the vast majority of the large gulls were concentrated. Here are today’s numerical and pictorial gull highlights:
This was our SECOND California Gull of the day, and a bird that was as cooperative as you could ask. It popped immediately based on the darker gray feathers infiltrating the mantle and upperparts – rendering it darker-mantled than any Ring-billed or Herring Gull in sight. The mantle shade of this bird is best-described as intermediate between Ring-billed/Herring & Lesser Black-backed, and a day of cloudiness as this helps tremendously with such comparisons. The size and shape of this bird are also distinctive – slender, long-winged and billed. It should be more dimunitive than Herring, and larger than Ring-billed. The eye is dark, and the bill slim, long, and dark-tipped. To me this is a second-year bird based on the extent of the gray mantle-feathering. Chris Pierce was also present for this bird, and it most cooperative for 10 min. or so at the south end of the marina.
The other California was a third-year bird – nearly-identical to adult but with a bit of head-streaking, no white on folded primaries. Emil & I watched this bird extensively and when it came near enough to photograph, it slipped between two docks and unfortunately was not seen therefater.
The above Lesser Black-backed Gull was one of THIRTEEN that we observed here, ten of which were also adults. I think that literally every slip (between docks) that we looked down had at least one Lesser. Crazy!
Total gull numbers from the harbor:
CALIFORNIA 2 2nd & 3rd-cycle
Thayer’s 1 ad
Iceland 2 2nd-cyc & ad
Lesser Black-backed Gull 13
Glaucous 1 1st-cyc Emil had this bird after I left on the west side of the harbor
We also checked Beaver Creek Marina looking for a Red-throated Loon reported earlier in the week, but found instead a Red-shouldered Hawk apparently FISHING! The bird was perched over the canal, when it plunged toward a small lead of open water, and coming up empty, sat on the ice for a moment. No loon or open water to speak but these birds: