Wednesday, January 1, 2014

MA - Arctic Gulls come to Turner's Falls - 01/01/14

If I was impressed with the gull tally from the Turner's Falls sector of the Greenfield CBC on Dec 29th, then I can only describe the current gull show at Turner's Falls as extra-ordinary. Although I've watched the winter gulls here every year since 2005, the current numbers of pale-winged gulls to be found really strike me as being unusually high. Yesterday evening (12/31), I found eight Kumlien's (Iceland) Gulls on the power canal alone, with a further three birds at Unity Park - 11 birds in total! These included three adults, three 2nd-cycle with the remainder being 1st-cycles. Yesterday evening also brought two 1st-cycle Glaucous Gulls and better looks at what I now feel confident is a Lesser Black-backed x American Herring Gull hybrid, a bird which I first saw at dawn on the CBC on Dec 29th.


 Glaucous Gull - 1st-cycle, with dark Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. One of two 1st-cycle Glaucous present. 


 Glaucous Gull - 1st-cycle in flight, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. One of two 1st-cycle Glaucous present. 


Glaucous Gull - 1st-cycle (rear), Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. Second of two 1st-cycle Glaucous present. 


presumed Hybrid (Lesser x Herring) Gull - adult, Turner's Falls power canal, 
Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. 

Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull - adult in flight, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. One 1st-cycle Glaucous Gull at rear. 


Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull - adult (right), Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
December 31st, 2013. 

Kumlien's (Iceland) Gulls - two 1st-cycle (left), Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
December 31st, 2013. One 1st-cycle Glaucous Gull at rear right. 

Kumlien's (Iceland) Gulls - two 1st-cycle, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
December 31st, 2013. One 1st-cycle Glaucous Gull at rear right. 

Gulls - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. 
It's hard to imagine that this modest flock would produce 8 Kumlien's and 2 Glaucous Gulls in one evening.

This evening (01/01/14) brought more interesting observations with a beautiful 3rd-cycle Glaucous, 6 Kumlien's (Iceland), and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Normally, one might expect to wade through thousands of large gulls to get these numbers, but the Turner's gull flock is thankfully tiny with no more than 250 birds present on each of the last two evenings. Picking out the pale-winged gulls has been relatively easy by virtue of this small flock size, though adult Kumlien's (Iceland) can still be surprisingly challenging to pick out from the larger numbers of American Herring Gulls.

 Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult (left), Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
January 1st, 2014. 

Glaucous Gull -3rd-cycle (left), Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 1st, 2014.

The power canal held other good birds too with a drake Northern Pintail, and 8 Black Ducks on 12/31, both species curiously absent on the CBC, and this evening two Barrow's Goldeneyes came into the roost, the same female seen on the CBC, but also a first-year male looking very dull and dark at the moment but starting to acquire a few male-type characteristics such as the black spur that extends from the upper parts onto the breast sides. This bird should develop more recognizable male Barrow's plumage as the winter progresses.

Northern Pintail - male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 31st, 2013. 
Missed during our sector of the CBC.


American Black Ducks - five of eight present, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
December 31st, 2013. Another puzzling miss from our sector the Greenfield CBC.

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