[CT Birds] A tip for looking for the Mew Gull in Southbury
kmueller at ntplx.net
kmueller at ntplx.net
Sun Jan 4 16:39:32 EST 2015
For those looking for the Southbury Mew Gull and might not feel you
are confident in your ID skills, I might offer you a little tip to
help you locate the Gull. There is a large concentration of Gulls
there along the Housatonic River at Mitchell's Farm; around 2,000
mostly Ring-billed Gulls. The Gulls are forever moving around from one
field to another, to the river and back, from the fields to the barn
roof tops and reverse, and just moving around in a circle to only
settle where they just came from. This alone can make your search very
I was fortunate to see the Gull last winter when Patrick Comins found
it, and again yesterday when Nick Bonomo found it. Nick compared the
images from both Gulls and believes it is the same Gull that has
Here is my tip!- Look on the outside edges of the flock of Gulls
first! Last winter when I saw the bird on two occasions (both times in
the river)...it was on the outside perimeter of the rafted Gull flock.
It started on the extreme left outside edge when Patrick re-found it,
and then it swam along the back side edge of the flock, always keeping
on the outer edge of the flock. It never mingled into the flock always
staying on the outside edge keeping a little distance between.
The second time I saw the Gull a week later, it was sleeping on the
ice with the Gulls again on the outside middle of the roosting flock.
Yesterday when Jen and I ran up there to see the Gull we stopped and
chatted with Nick who said the Gull had left an hour earlier. Jen and
I went up to the fields by the farm and barns and Jen relocated the
Gull. It was (again) standing on the outer right edge of the Gull
flock almost by itself (being 15 feet away from the outer-most
Ring-billed Gull in the flock). This time it was close to the road.
After a few minutes, it flew off by itself and landed on the farthest
barn roof by itself with no other Gulls on the roof. It stayed there
for ten minutes and then flew off the roof. It flew around with the
big flock of Gulls that left the small field by the road. These Gulls
flew around and then returned to the same field where they left. The
Mew returned as well.....and landed to the far outer left edge of the
flock leaving 15 feet or so between it and the outer-most Ring-billed
So when you are sorting through all those Gulls in the fields,
rooftops or in the river, you might want to start looking on the outer
edges first and then slowly work in towards the center. Also when
Gulls are landing in with the flocks on the ground, etc, check the
ones on the outer edges first. It is also possible that newly arriving
birds may be surrounding the Mew Gull IF it was on the edge of the
flock, but it might make your search easier.
Also, this bird has a mantle color that is only slightly darker than
the Ring-billed Gulls, so that may not be a helpful field mark to
scour through the flocks. But, what may be more helpful; this bird has
a dark eye, blue/gray legs, and two-toned blue inner half/yellow tip
colored bill with a faint smudge on the mandible. My method in
searching for this Gull in the flocks (besides scouring the edges) is
to look at all the legs of the Gulls that are standing. I look for the
blue legs that are attached to an adult bird. When I find them, I look
up to the eye and bill......and that is how Jen found the bird
yesterday. While I was photographing the Iceland Gull, she was looking
through the flocks using the "edge" location and blue leg
theory,,,,and it worked! She spotted the Gull within a few
minutes......right in front of me!!
Good Luck, I hope this helps and you find that wonderful little Gull!
If you want to see a picture of what this Gull looks like, just email
me and I will attach one for you.
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