Friday, January 22, 2010

MA - unidentified gull - 01/20

unidentified first-cycle gull - East Gloucester, Essex Co., MA. January 20th, 2010.

Larger and bulkier than Kumlien's Gull (right).

Although Nick Bonomo and I had a cracking day of gulling in East Gloucester, our session got off to a shaky start with this bird. We found it just off Rocky Point Road and couldn't have wished for better views. After thirty minutes we moved on feeling completely baffled by what we'd seen! We discussed several possibilities, including hybrid combinations, but I couldn't help wonder why it wasn't a pale-end Thayer's Gull? It was obviously large, maybe too large for a typical Thayer's but beyond that many features, including a nice set of unmolted juvenile scapulars, looked to be OK for Thayer's. I also wonder how we would have treated the bird had it been several shades darker? Later in the afternoon we had little trouble locating the same, distinctive individual at Niles Pond. This time it was surrounded by hundreds of Great Black-backed and American Herring Gulls and didn't look quite so mighty as it had done in Gloucester Harbor. However, it still looked considerably larger and bulkier than most Kumlien's Gulls present.

NB. Jeff Polken's wonderful Thayer's Gull images are well worth checking out, including many pale birds.

As always, comments on the identification would be most welcome.


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