[CT Birds] Thayer's Gull, Ash Creek

Alexander Burdo alexanderburdo at mac.com
Thu Dec 8 22:06:19 EST 2011

Hi All,

Yesterday I had an interesting gull at Ash Creek that I was considering as a definite candidate for Thayer's Gull and perhaps even A Thayer's Gull. The bird was wandering around the exposed mussel bars as viewed from the Jewish Home for the Elderly at low tide in the late afternoon, where a number of Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls were also present. Others I talked to that night agreed with my assumptions and said it was definitely a candidate for Thayer's Gull. Unfortunately, because of the range, I was only able to produce a sketch but did make some detailed notes on the bird. 

Today I ventured up to see the 1st cycle Thayer's in Windsor and, although my bird at Ash Creek was an adult, the slightly larger than Kumlien's size, rounded head shape, 'gentle' expression and smaller than HEGU size all were strikingly similar (structurally) to the bird I had at Ash Creek. This drove my to say that I was very sure this bird was not a Herring Gull and also very certain that it was not a Kumlien's (although I'm sure there are some strange Kumlien's out there). 

A few hours of research on the internet, including searching "Thayer's-like Herring Gulls" and a few hours of reading, including in The Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America all pointed very strongly to Thayer's Gull and were actually, admittedly kind of annoying in the fact that I was not able to gain better photos so everyone believed me. 

I've had a few weird birds before that I've always considered posting to the list, but restrained myself in my uncertainty. I only post definite birds to this liserve and I feel like this bird was a Thayer's Gull. I realize gulls are arguably the most variable and challenging family in identification but this bird looks like a rare case of a 'classic' representative of its species.

Numerous times I tried to make this into a Herring or Kumlien's Gull so I wouldn't have to go through a difficult process with this bird but couldn't. Finally I felt obligated to alert the CT Birding community to the bird.

Please email me privately if you would like to view the notes and/or the sketch.


Alex Burdo

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