Saturday, October 3, 2009

When common gulls show up in odd plumages

This Thursday, I was birding at the south end of Jekyll. I was wading through the dog fennel and grasses that had grown thick on the path out to the beach, when I saw the beach birds fly up and around. Ugh, a group of kids had run down the beach and through the birds. It was frustrating to see the flock of sandpipers fly up and away to become unidentified dots. I was left with joyous kids and nervous birds. We sorted through the flock and found a good selection of terns. There were Caspian, Royal and Forster's Terns standing side by side. That is always fun to watch. It was a nice hour and I was heading back that I saw something that stop me.

The gull in question is in the middle just in front of the Brown Pelicans
I just knew I had a rare gull. I love challenges like this. I recorded the field marks. I photographed it. The adrenaline was rushing. Gulls go through molts and this was a young gull. It had a delicate bill for a gull, dark at the tip and light flesh colored at the base. The pale overall appearance made it stick out like a shining beacon. Its head was almost pure white and the eyes were onyx. What could it be? When I got home I went for by books. As I sorted through it was became clear. It was not a rare gull but a common one. It was a very young, Ring-billed Gull. I had never seen a just-off the nest Ring-billed Gull. Yes, I have seen thousands of Ring-billed Gulls but never one that was in juvenile plumage. Pretty cool bird.

1 comment:

dAwN said...

Great that u pursued and figured out what gull u were seeing...always something to be learned.