[mou] Wisconsin Point Gulls (photos soon)

Erik Bruhnke birdfedr at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 18:05:02 CST 2008

This morning, and throughout early afternoon I birded Wisconsin Point
(primarily Superior Entry but also scanned along the length of the point on
the bay side). The majority of gulls were of course Herring Gulls, with a
few Ring-billed Gulls. There are two other species of gulls that I am nearly
certain I had... one adult Thayer's Gull, and the other was a possible Great
Black-backed Gull (1st winter). I've got good digiscoped photos of both
birds, but my old computer isn't working, and I'm waiting on a new computer
coming in this weekend... anyways, I'll be sure to show photos as soon as I
can! Oh and four Red-breasted Mergansers flushed when I got to the entry....

The Great Black-backed Gull would be a lifer, and here's a description of my
observation of this bird:
First off, this gull was larger than the nearby Herring Gulls. From
head-to-tail, it appeared chunkier and more upright than the herrings. Bill
was all dark and very bulky looking compared to the Herring Gull's bills
which seemed to be more slender. It's head was overall white with very pale
mottling of creamy tan throughout the back of the head region. There was a
little bit of darker blending throughout the immediate eye area, which faded
partially to the back of the head. The chest and sides/flanks of this bird
were mottled in specks of light brown. The wings, when folded, contrasted
with the rest of the bird by being much darker brown than this bird's side
and belly, which was primarily pale white with again, the light mottling of
light brown. What was also very distinct was the speckled/checkered look of
the wing pattern throughout the entire wings (medium to dark brown feathers
overall, with more 'whisps' of creamy-white detailed along the wing
feathers). Based on my photographs, the leg color was slightly lighter pink
than the nearby Herring Gulls' legs. One last field mark that stood out was
when the bird preened or contacted it's rump... it flared it's tail out, and
I saw and got photographs of a very pale tail with a relatively thin black
band throughout the base of the tail.

The possible adult Thayer's Gull was very close to the Herring Gulls in
size, and the two most distinctive differences between this gull and the
Herring Gulls was a very dark eye, and a very bright/rich-yellow-colored
bill. The mantle on this bird, from my photos, does not seem to differ from
the nearby herrings' mantles. The head overall was white, with light tan
mottling throughout the back of the head, and eventually covering the neck
region. Pure white belly. Legs seem very similar to the Herring Gulls' legs,
based on my photos. I was unable to trace this bird when the gulls flushed,
because the larger gull as described from earlier caught my attention :)

I love learning about new bird species, so if anyone has any input on my
descriptions, I'd appreciate it. In case you're interested in seeing a photo
I digiscoped a Glaucous Gull(s) and a Thayer's Gull last winter at the
Superior landfill, go to http://www.pbase.com/birdfedr/image/93164901.

Good birding,

Erik Bruhnke
Duluth, MN
birdfedr at gmail.com
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