Posts Tagged ‘Kamchatka Gull’

Kamchatka Gull, West Haven, CT

April 5, 2021

4th April
Heading home from Easter weekend at Ingrid’s, I dragged my son Alex around Seaside Park, Bridgeport looking for the previous week’s reported Mew Gull, found by Jeremy Nance, but it had gone missing. Pix revealed it to be the Asian/Siberian form kamschatschensis, a larger, darker and stouter-billed version of Eurasian canus and west coast North American brachyrhyncus.

I drew a blank and checked a few spots o the way home, stopping in at Bradley Point to check the loafing gulls there. I’d had several Glaucs and Iceland and had hit pay dirt earlier by unearthing a smashing California Gull. Thinking there may be a chance the Kam Gull might relocate, I made the effort to drop in, but there were few gulls present, so I continued home, notching up a “new” first-cycle Iceland Gull off shore at West Haven Boat Ramp.

5th April
I dropped Alex at school and instead of driving the 40 mile round trip, opted to hit Hammo and bird the area before going back and picking him up. I was not prepared for the brutal wind, driving the temperature down. Despite covering a good area on foot, there was little activity. On my way back to New Haven, I got a call from John Oshlik that he checked Bradley Point and had deftly found a/the Kamchatka Gull loafing on the flats with gulls. Damn! Nice find!! But why wasn’t it there last night??? Finding a Mew Gull locally has been a target of mine and I’ve joked with Nick Bonomo who seems to find Mew Gulls in every flock of gulls he looks at, that I can’t find one to save my life…lol! I had not seen the recent Kam Gull at Stamford in 2019 so I was keen to see this Asian bruiser!

I arrived to find the bird still present and got killer views of it with Frank Gallo and John. The bird was quite tame, coming to food at the main beach before flying off but apparently soon returned to the flats.

A large individual, it was bigger and much longer-bodied than the nearby Ring-billeds and showed the typical “mean” look with pear-shaped head and a long, stout yellowish bill. The eye was grayish, peppered darker, and had a nice vermillion eye-ring. All the above features were classic Kamchatka and at odds with the other forms of Mew Gull.

Gulls Gone Wild!

April 20, 2015

17th-19th April – West Haven, CT (click images for larger view)

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First-cycle Thayer’s Gull, West Haven, CT 19th April

After Nick Bonomo refound the adult Kamchatka Gull at Oyster River on the West Haven, Milford border, (first found in Southport, CT by Mayn Hipp and Mike Warner a week previously), Oyster River had been given a good going over by a few locals, mainly because it was a great loafing spot for gulls and hosted CT’s only Ross’s Gull in the 80s.

The birds are frequently disturbed here by Joe Public and when flushed, frustratingly often fly off into the sound and despite checking the area, the Kamchatka Gull had not been seen since. Nick and I did find a surprisingly late Snowy Owl along the same stretch of coast. Later that night, amazingly enough, Keith Mueller, birding the same spot an hour before Nick refound the Kamchatka, had unwittingly photographed another Mew Gull while taking shots of Bonaparte’s Gulls. The images appear to show the Eurasian race of Mew Gull, known as Common Gull.

On Friday 17th, I had left work early for a Dentist appt. Deciding to head down to Oyster River on spec, I was just leaving New Haven, when Nick called to tell me Keith had relocated the Kamchatka Gull back at Oyster River. Panicking, I set off only to hit rush hour traffic. Halfway there I got a call that the bird was flushed by a clammer and was not on view. AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! Relief came when Keith called back and said he had it out on the flats. A mad sprint later and the bird showed excellent roosting on the flats.

Adult Kamchatka Gull, Oyster River, CT

Adult Kamchatka Gull, Oyster River, CT

I spent Sunday afternoon 19th April birding, but  there was no sign of the Kamchatka Gull or any other gulls for that matter. Taking my usual route back to the house, I stopped at the West Haven boat ramp, as I often do to check out any gulls. There were few birds in evidence but I did spot a first-cycle Iceland Gull on the water.

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_P9A4672After shooting it for some time, I left. As I was reversing back, I caught a glimpse of a bird landing below the dock, but the metal barricade obscured everything but the underside of the wingtip. It looked surprisingly silvery, but didn’t strike me as Iceland. My spidey sense was tingling, so I stopped the car, got my bins and peered over the barrier to find a first-cycle Thayer’s Gull staring back at me. Holy !!!@@$$$$.

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Doing a double-take, I checked off the short primaries with nice silvery fringes, brown, pale-tipped tail and overall bleached, cafe-au-lait plumage. Structurally it was all thayeri with short legs, a slight pot-belly and a disproportionately small, but pear-shaped head. The bill was mostly dark, just beginning to get some flesh-color at the base. Thayer’s retain their juvenile mantle feathers until later in the winter and upperparts seemed to be all worn first generation feathers, again supportive of Thayer’s Gull.

_P9A4882In flight, coffee-coloured (not blackish, or dark brown) tail, secondary bar and outer webs to the outer primaries all screamed..RESULT!!

_P9A4778Nice pale underside to primaries, here the light showing through illuminating the “venetian blind” effect on the primaries.

_P9A4845Note color of primaries and tertial centres being rather uniform and not contrastingly darker as some of the similar, bleached Herring Gulls nearby. What a cracking bird! I’ve always dreamed of finding something like a Mew Gull or a Franklin’s Gull here, but Thayer’s was not really on my radar.

A fantastic few days of birding on my local beaches!

_P9A4254Snowy Owl, Bradley Point, West Haven..a nice consolation for missing the Kamchatka Gull on the first evening.