[CT Birds] Boney & small gull info,

Clay Taylor ctaylor at att.net
Sun Mar 25 21:12:52 EDT 2007

All -

I'd like to add in a few tips on ID'ing the smaller gulls, especially when 
seen sitting quietly on the mudflats.    In flight, Little Gull is totally 
unique both from above or below.    A flying Bonaparte's Gull, depending on 
the viewing angle and quality of the lighting, can look like it has dark 
under the wingtips, but Black-headed ALWAYS shows the dark on the underside 

Right now, Black-headed adults should show full or nearly-full head color 
(really a dark chocolate-brown, not black).   I photo-documented one of the 
1980s Old Saybrook birds that went from basic (winter) plumage to alternate 
(breeding) plumage in 19 days!     If you find an individual that does NOT 
have breeding plumage, it will certainly show the red bill and legs, 
contrasting with the black bill of Bonaparte's and fleshy or orange legs. 
If they are all sitting on the mud or calm water with heads tucked in, as 
long as they are all facing the same direction, the mantle color of 
Black-headed is a few shades lighter than Bonaparte's, and it is slightly 
larger and bulkier.

I never saw a CT Little Gull with breeding plumage, but in basic it always 
has a very dark crown or "cap", like a Wilson's Warbler, not smudgy dark 
like on some Bonies.    The Little Gull also has gray from the mantle that 
extends down the sides of the breast in front of the wings, ending at the 
waterline.    The folded wingtips do not show black primaries from above as 
do the Bonies.    Little will be REALLY little - noticeably smaller than the 
Bonies, whether sitting or flying.

A Ross' Gull would be very small, with a big head, stubby thick black bill, 
and a dark eye that appears to be very large in proportion to the face. 
It may or may not show color underneath, and the tail-shape is probably only 
visible in flight.    The underwing pattern of Ross' seems to be variable, 
but if it is flying, the small size and tail shape will give it away.

I checked Old Saybrook today about 11:30 - Noon, and only had scattered 
groups of Bonies.   Looks like they are all to the western LIS right now.

Clay Taylor
Moodus, CT
ctaylor at att.net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nick Bonomo" <nbonomo at gmail.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2007 7:13 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Boney info, LI Sound larvae bloom,and Smith's Longspur 

> Now that Bonaparte's Gulls have arrived in some numbers, birders will
> probably be searching for the rarer Little and Black-headed Gulls
> among them. While Boneys can be found anywhere along the coast, there
> are a few reliable spots to find them. These include South Cove in Old
> Saybrook, Oyster River in West Haven/Milford, Seaside Park area in
> Bridgeport, and Southport Beach (aka Sasco River mouth) in Southport.
> All of these sites are productive near low tide when the mudflats are
> available for roosting. At the higher tides the birds often disperse
> into LI Sound to feed. Tomorrow's low tide at Oyster River is about
> 11:30 am.
> When looking for Black-headed Gulls right now, first scan the flock
> for any birds with a full or nearly-full hood. BHGU reaches breeding
> plumage earlier than Bonaparte's on average, which is a huge help
> right now. I did not see a single Bonaparte's Gull today with more
> than a hint of a hood, while the one Black-headed Gull was almost
> fully hooded. Soon enough this will be less helpful as the Boneys come
> into breeding plumage.
> Of course the golden bird to find in these flocks would be Ross's
> Gull. The one previous state record, April 11-22, 1984, came from
> Oyster River (Zeranski & Baptist).
> It appears that the larvae bloom (or whatever it is) has begun along
> the western CT coastline. Today there were small concentrations of
> gulls picking at the water's surface from Oyster River to Merwin
> Point, and also off of Compo Beach. Joining the gulls in the food were
> Greater Scaup and common dabbling ducks. This is good news as the
> combination of this food source and the arrival of Boneys could mean
> nice concentrations of small gulls this year.
> Although the Smith's Longspur was not relocated today, birders should
> continue to scour the model airplane field and surrounding areas. The
> Smith's Longspur that was recently on Long Island was VERY hard to
> find on most days. Some days passed with the bird not being seen at
> all. It is a secretive species for a longspur and is capable of
> covering a lot of ground. So there's still hope! Congrats to Larry
> Flynn for a great find and for obtaining a nice photo! Perhaps we can
> find a website to host the pic so everyone can see it.
> Nick Bonomo
> Orange, CT
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