Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It feels like Iceland too

I spent about 45 minutes in NW gales at Tiscornia this morning.  When a common loon crash-landed amidst the gull flock (setting them all to flight) I should have known that there wasn't going to be much movement.  It was actually banded green over silver on the left leg and soon flopped back into the surf.  It was really too windy to get much use out of the scope and I headed south.

After not seeing a whole lot at the landfill (though there were loads of gulls), I headed on to 3 Oaks where Tim found a California gull yesterday (for an interesting challenge click on Tim's bird pics under Michigan links and age the bird, it's not a common one).  Today there were glaucous gulls and a lesser black-backed as well as this quite white-headed bird:

I first picked it up facing straight towards me and it stood out as its head was virtually unstreaked, contrasting from the herring gulls.  With closer study you could note pinker legs, a dainty bill and a slightly darker (but still yellow) eye than the Herrings.  The eye might briefly make a person think Thayer's, but they are more heavily hooded than a Herring generally.  I waited for it to turn broadside to see how much gray it would show (Kumlien's Iceland gulls are quite variable in this regard), and it eventually revealed neat charcoal patterning to the leading edge of the wing fading to white on the trailing edge.

Here's a comparison of another Kumlien's Iceland gull from February 07 which showed more extensive, and blacker, wingtips than today's bird.  Today was the earliest I've ever had an Iceland gull.

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