Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 3: Thayer's Gull! (Or is it conspecific with Iceland?)

Thayer's Gull
Thayer's Gull

 Today I added another bird of conservation concern, a Thayer's Gull in Canal Park in Duluth. This bird, which may actually be a subspecies of the Iceland Gull, is mainly of concern because so little is known about it and its needs. Thayer's and Iceland Gulls nest in very inaccessible areas, but are very vulnerable to oil spills. Following a 1993 shipwreck near Shetland, a disproportionately large number of all gulls found dead were Iceland Gull. Behavior of aerial feeding from surface of sea may make Iceland Gull especially prone to ingestion of oil or oil-covered items in contaminated areas.

 Erik Bruhnke and I met at Canal Park at 11 this morning to see gulls, but they weren't gathering at all near the point. We did see them rise, probably when a Peregrine Falcon passed over--the falcon landed on the aerial lift bridge and even the distant gulls pretty much disappeared. I'll have to spend more time studying the gulls later in the day tomorrow or Saturday (my dog Photon has a vet appointment tomorrow late in the day). We did pick out a Great Black-backed Gull, several Ring-billed Gulls, the Thayer's and another that we saw only briefly and couldn't be sure whether it was Thayer's or Iceland (one day that question may turn out to be unimportant). We also saw this Herring Gull with a weird tip to its bill.

Herring Gull
Herring Gull with deformed bill tip

Erik picked out this hybrid Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser. The bill is very merganser-like. It stayed a bit separate from the main flock of goldeneyes.
Hybrid Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser
Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser
I wonder if the female Bufflehead is the same one as last year?

I added 7 new species for the year today, including the Peregrine Falcon, bringing my total so far to 36. Oddly enough, though it's only been a few decades since breeding peregrines had been entirely extirpated from the eastern US, its reintroduction has been so successful that it's no longer considered of conservation concern at all. The two species I've seen so far that are of conservation concern are the Evening Grosbeak and Thayer's Gull. 

I looked for the Varied Thrush again on my way home from Canal Park, but got skunked (though I did finally see a Blue Jay). Miles put on today: 13, making the total so far 267.

New species added:
  1. Mallard
  2. Bufflehead
  3. Ring-billed Gull
  4. Great Black-backed Gull
  5. Thayer's Gull
  6. Peregrine Falcon
  7. Blue Jay

1 comment:

  1. Some exciting birds added! I'm anxious to get out and do some traveling birding around my area, but this darn snowy weather is keeping me at home.