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MOU-RBA  May 2009

MOU-RBA May 2009

Subject:

[mou-net] ALERT: LAUGHING GULL (with photos) - Ashland, WI

From:

Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 May 2009 12:59:46 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (137 lines)

Here's a post I just sent out to Wisbirdnet, and though I'd share my
sighting with all of you, especially those near Lake Superior (Duluth area
and in the north neck of the woods).

This morning's field ornithology class started out by driving about a minute
south of campus, and listening to some Savannah Sparrows and Clay-colored
Sparrows in a field. After that, we headed out to Maslowski Beach on
Chequamegon Bay where from a distance (without binoculars), there was a
non-adult Franklin's/Laughing-looking gull. Before this morning I had never
seen a Laughing Gull before, and had some brief experience with Franklin's
Gulls both last summer in Grand Forks, ND as well as this summer throughout
SD and ND. This gull got my attention right away, and I told that class to
focus on the bird, and just soak up the field marks that you see and
observe, and not look in the field guide (I'm really excited seeing how far
my students have come in the term so far)! So we've got our binoculars fixed
on this gull, and after about 5 or so minutes of observing it, we got the
Sibley's out. Now since this was my first time seeing a Franklin's Gull,
this was a fantastic learning experience for me too :) I'm spending a fair
amount of time on IDing gulls with the class, but told them that gull ID is
very tricky due to plumage fluctuations throughout their lifetimes (as young
gulls, and as the seasons change).  We've got Bonaparte's Gull, Ring-billed
Gull, and Herring Gull down, emphasizing on the leg color, bill appearance,
and body size for the latter two, as well as body size and appearance of the
Bonaparte's Gull. The class is also getting a good grasp on the gulls by
gull calls too.

Basically the things we noted are as follows:
This gull shows a hazy wash of dark gray throughout the face (not black like
a Franklin's Gull), and lacks a clean cut contrast in the back of the head
(Franklin's Gulls show a more solid edge between the dark head and pale
neck). This bird had thick white eye crescents. Also, this bird has a pale
gray wash throughout the chest region, which is characteristic of non-adult
Laughing Gulls. There was even a minor field mark that was visible in the
field, and isn't really emphasized (in words anyways) in the Sibley Guide...
While looking at the bird from a side profile, the 1st winter (and other
non-breeding Laughing Gulls) show a white patch of feathers just above and
in front of the flanks. This bird definitely had that marking. One of the
most significant fields marks observed was the all-dark primaries on thsi
bird. Franklin's Gulls should show some degree of white tips throughout the
primaries, depending on age. The adult Franklin's Gulls that I've seen are
just stunning with their thick white wing tips. And as a side note, the bill
on this bird is quite long (note photos), and Laughing Gulls from the field
guides are shown with slightly longer bills than Franklin's Gulls.

Here are my best Laughing Gull photos from today
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112443640
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112443641
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112443637
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112443639
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112443642
http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/112444830

Here's the three e-bird reports from today. We went from Maslowski Beach, to
Long Bridge, and finished up with about 40 minutes of hawkwatching at the
visitor center. A lone migrating Peregrine Falcon was observed flying over
Long Bridge, as well as another distant one over the visitor center shortly
after.

Location:     Ashland--Maslowski Beach
Observation date:     5/12/09
Number of species:     12

Mallard     3
Great Blue Heron     1
Bald Eagle     1
Spotted Sandpiper     1
Greater Yellowlegs     1
Laughing Gull     1
Ring-billed Gull     12
Herring Gull     4
Yellow Warbler     1
Yellow-rumped Warbler     2
Chipping Sparrow     1
Red-winged Blackbird     2



Location:     Ashland--Long Bridge/Head of the bay
Observation date:     5/12/09
Number of species:     28

Canada Goose     10
Wood Duck     2
Mallard     3
Blue-winged Teal     3
Green-winged Teal     2
Lesser Scaup     15
Hooded Merganser     2
Peregrine Falcon     1
Spotted Sandpiper     8
Ring-billed Gull     3
Blue Jay     18
Tree Swallow     2
Veery     1
American Robin     1
European Starling     1
Cedar Waxwing     5
Yellow Warbler     1
Yellow-rumped Warbler     15
Northern Waterthrush     1
Common Yellowthroat     1
Song Sparrow     1
Swamp Sparrow     2
White-throated Sparrow     2
White-crowned Sparrow     2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak     1
Bobolink     1
Red-winged Blackbird     4
Common Grackle     10


Location:     Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
Observation date:     5/12/09
Number of species:     9

Turkey Vulture     3
Bald Eagle     1
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1
Broad-winged Hawk     1
Rough-legged Hawk     1
Peregrine Falcon     1
Sandhill Crane     4
Killdeer     2
Ring-billed Gull     2


Good birding,
Erik Bruhnke

Ashland, WI
[log in to unmask]
www.pbase.com/birdfedr

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