Monday, February 6, 2012

The Herring are Running: Glaucous and Mystery Gull

Right now, the herring are running in the bay area, and the gulls are going nuts feeding on eggs and perhaps even the fish themselves.  Cory, Dan, Frenchie and I went to see what we could find yesterday afternoon at Fort Baker in Sausalito.  Large numbers of Mew, California, Western, Herring, and Glaucous-winged, hundreds of Thayer's and at least one Glaucous Gull.  We also found a bird that looked odd.  First cycle "Nelson's" Gull came right to mind, although I've only seen one of these ever, and cannot be certain.  Structurally the bird looks like a Glaucous, and the pink and black bicolored bill supports Glaucous in its ancestry.  Glaucous-winged X Glaucous isn't too rare, and mixed ancestry between these two species is certainly a possibility as well.  We encourage readers to comment with their thoughts on this bird as well (photos below).  An Iceland Gull had been seen the past two days, but we unfortunately could not locate it amongst the thousands of gulls.  Here are some photos.  We were there late in the afternoon, and we didn't find the Glaucous Gull until late, so the photos are dark.
Mystery Gull.  Possibly a "Nelson's" (Herring X Glaucous), which was my first thought, but personally I'm not sure.  We welcome your insight, and will update when we know more. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
The mystery gull again with Glaucous-winged (left), California (background), and Herring (foreground).
First cycle Thayer's Gull
First cycle Thayer's Gull
This banded Western Gull had a fishing hook and line tangled around its left leg, which didn't look to healthy.  Otherwise the bird seemed to be in fairly good health.
Second cycle Glaucous Gull with Western, Herring, Thayer's and California Gulls
Second Cycle Glaucous Gull
Second cycle Glaucous Gull in long call posture
Second cycle Glaucous Gull (center)
Compare this presumed "Nelson's" Gull with the mystery bird above.  Pelagic out of Lewes, DE. February 2011.  
By Luke Musher

1 comment:

  1. I recommend this blog post regarding NEGUs; Kirk has a lot of photos to compare things: