[CT Birds] Stratford maybe 10K+ gulls

Frank Mantlik mantlik at sbcglobal.net
Wed Mar 10 17:29:49 EST 2010

Thanks to Scott for promptly posting news of this incredible gull concentration.  Just some additional details.  I arrived at Short Beach about 11:45 today, and was amazed at the number of gulls before me on the sand flats of the Housatonic River, and on the higher sandbars off Milford Point.  The vast majority (90%) were Ring-billeds.  These migrants, which breed on large inland lakes north and west of us, were here to rest, bathe and preen - following the gorging on plankton they've been doing for the past 2 weeks.  Well, within the first 15 minutes or so, I had spotted a 1st-winter BLACK-HEADED GULL (one poor digiscope photo; it promptly vanished) and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (several photos).  At that point I called several local birders (including Miley Bull), and then I ended up scanning/ scoping the flocks for nearly 3 hours, (searching hard for a Mew gull or a California Gull.  No luck, Nick.).  Tide was still falling, almost no wind,
 beautiful light all around.  After a while we tried to estimate numbers, and my best estimate was 10,000 Ring-billed (plus or minus; including 4 with numbered wingtags), maybe 1000 Herring, 40 Great Black-backed, 7+ Bonaparte's Gulls, 1 LBBG, 1 BLACK-HEADED.
In addition, there were lots of RB Mergansers, 100 Com. Goldeneyes, 25 WW Scoters, 16 Gadwall, 2 GW Teal, etc.  Then Charlie spotted two enormous flocks of waterfowl resting on the water far to the east (east of the offshore breakwater).  Based on their size, dark and white coloration, and slow wingbeat, we determined they were Brant - suspected plankton-feeding. 
There had to be 1000 in the first flock, and the second flock was of comparable size.  
We never could relocate the Black-headed, but I suspect it was out there somewhere. 
Earlier in the day, I saw the continuing 2nd-cycle GLAUCOUS GULL at Long Beach, and 27 Red-throated Loons off the Lordship Seawall.
It was an amazing afternoon.  And can't wait till the flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls arrive.

Frank Mantlik

From: Scott Kruitbosch <kbosch at gmail.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Sent: Wed, March 10, 2010 1:27:05 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Stratford maybe 10K+ gulls

Short Beach right now: Frank Mantlik found a first-cycle Black-headed
Gull (which unfortunately cannot be relocated right now), an adult
Lesser Black-backed Gull, several Bonaparte's Gulls and obviously
possibly more. There are around 8K Ring-billed Gulls, including some
tagged ones.

This massive group is on sand bars between here and Milford Point,
some close, some far. Frank, Charlie Barnard, Brian Webster and myself
are still actively scoping through them. There are a good number of
Goldeneye and handfuls of other ducks.

-Scott Kruitbosch

Sent from my mobile device

Scott Kruitbosch
Connecticut Audubon Society
Stratford, CT
kbosch at gmail.com

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