Kumlien’s Gulls

Nice evening light prompted a quick sojurn down to look for Kumlien’s Gull at the boat ramp. Immediately upon arriving located a nice juv. Kumlien’s standing near the shore – nice grey wash to the underparts made it a different bird to last week’s individual.

This bird has a more wholly blackish bill and nice grey bloom to the underparts than last week’s bird. This is a fairly typical kumlieni at the paler end of the spectrum. A fairly classic bird as far they go here in CT. In the UK, would you confidently identify this as a glaucoides Iceland Gull?

This bird has narrow, indistinct sub-apical tips to the primaries and a mottled/marbled tail but in a vagrancy context this would be a difficult call in Europe.

Alex hanging out at the boat ramp with the local pigeons. In the background, a constant reminder of my most sought-after State bird!

Here’s a couple of shots of returning adults from CT in year’s gone by..

Ad. Kumlien's Gull, CT, USA, February 2006. Note nice slate markings on primaries and amber eye - some are dark-eyed as in Thayer's but many here show a dull amber iris.

Ad. Kumlien's Gull, CT, March 2007.

Truly exquisite birds and a joy to photograph. Several Thayer’s Gulls have been seen in CT in recent years, and for comparison here are some shots of a bird that Nick Bonomo and I found in December 09 at the Hartford landfill – CT’s mecca gull spot. Initially briefly glimpsed by Nick, it promptly disappeared before we could clinch it, but after searching with James Smith, we managed to work through features and obtain some nice photos of this birder’s bird. In addition to an adult Thayer’s, Nick also found the State’s first Slaty-backed Gull the same winter!

Juv. Thayer's Gull, CT Dec 2009 with juv/f-w Kumlien's Gull (on right). Note the overall color, primary pattern, scapulars and tertials. In changing lights, this bird took on a chameleon-like appearance appearing very difficult to pick out from the young 'smickers'. Here it shows the nice cold, marbled appearance that was typical in overcast conditions.

In flight..

Note mostly all dark bill, primary pattern, solid brownish tertials with mottled tips, dark earcovert patch, dark secondary bar and wholly dark brownish (not blackish) tail,

Note compact shape (short legs, plump body) and nice "white-winged" like under primary surfaces. Undertail coverts also nicely vermiculated.


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2 Responses to “Kumlien’s Gulls”

  1. Sara Z Says:

    There is a dark Gyrfalcon in Burlington, VT today, 1/25/11. Maybe it is on its way down to one of those previous CT spots.

  2. Sean Murtha Says:


    Very enjoyable blog and great pictures! Is that Kumliens gull still there? And where exactly is that boat ramp? I’m heading up that way and thought it might be nice to stop and see it, and whatever else might be around.

    Thanks! Sean

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