Sunday, December 21, 2008

LITTLE GULL, Turner's Falls - 12/21

Little Gull - non-breeding adult in snow storm, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin County. Dec 21st. The rosy suffusion on the underparts was apparent in the field, but I am surprised that the camera picked up the color tone in awful visibility.

Although I saw the bird in flight a couple of times, this was the best that I could come up with for an underwing shot. It does, however, show the uniformly dark smoky-gray underwings and rather rounded wing tips, typical of adult Little Gull.

Interesting size comparison between Little Gull and other species of gull. The two birds to the left of the Little Gull are Ring-billed Gulls!

Again, a nice size comparison betweem Ring-billed (left) and American Herring Gulls (rear and right).

Winter storms bringing almost continuous snow since noon on Friday, really had me itching me to get out and check the gulls at Turner's Falls late this afternoon. Conditions were horrendous on the roads getting out there and visibility appalling once I'd arrived. Fortunately, the handful of gulls present and roosting on the ice were very close to the road on Riverview Drive on the Gill side of the river. I'd expected to see more birds. There were probably less than 100 gulls present, but the highlight came as a complete surprise - an adult Little Gull! The record shots are the best that I could get in the blizzard and fading light. Having made just one call to Scott Surner, the 'grapevine' seemed to work well and allow Mark Fairbrother to get out and see the bird before darkness set in.

Although not a state rarity, it would appear that Little Gulls are absolutely exceptional in interior Massachusetts. I can only find one inland record, a second-cycle bird at Lake Onota, Pittsfield, Berkshire County, April 20th - 21st, 1946 (Griscom).

I'd certainly be interested to know of any other reports from interior MA or any records along the Connecticut River Valley?