Franklin’s Fall-out November 2015

Having just returned from Texas where Franklin’s Gulls were moving in big numbers, the strong storm bringing strong winds into the north-east seemed conducive to bringing some Franklin’s Gulls. Nick Bonomo and I had mused over this, and with some birds in the mid-west, hopes were high. An east-coast Franklin’s Gull had been a nemesis bird for me ever since I had lived in the US. I had seen two close to my house in the UK, but missed the last two records in CT in 1998 and 1999. It was a bird that I had sought for more than a decade. Then Nick actually went out and did the unthinkable – actually finding a one-day wonder with Frank Gallo http://www.shorebirder.com/2015/11/franklins-gull-in-ct.html

Although gripped into oblivion, this hopeful herald carried with it optimism of more birds.

Keeping close contact with Tom Reed in Cape May, it was obvious on Nov 13 a huge influx of Franklin’s Gulls was happening in the mid-Atlantic region. See here for a more thorough analysis of the event: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/frgu2015/

With only five previous CT records, at least 30+ occurred in two days!

I expected these birds to reorient themselves quickly and with Nick confirming a deliberate westerly movement of the CT birds, tardy birders would likely struggle to find them. Due to work, I couldn’t be out that morning, but checking local gull spots came up blank. Combined with the only lingering flock of ten departing before I could get there, beads of sweat began to form on my brow. As I pulled into Oyster River, a well-known resting flock for gulls (host of CT’s only Ross’s and Kamchatka Gulls), a cursory scan with bins revealed two first-cycle Franklin’s Gull. !!@@###### BOOM!

I drove over and managed a few shots in nice light. I called Nick who was nearby and he came over and we were able to watch these crippling birds for a couple of hours. We babysat them for Dave Tripp who finally arrived after dipping them nearby. He kindly bought the celebratory brews at the local bar – we were able to sit drinking a beer at sunset with the birds visible in the background. Amazing stuff!

1st-winter_oysterriver_3

First-winter Franklin’s Gull

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One Response to “Franklin’s Fall-out November 2015”

  1. C.S. Wood Says:

    Nice piece Julian. Missed them myself, could not get out til Sunday. Go back to Texas again next year for me, OK? Chris Wood

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