[CT Birds] A tip for looking for the Mew Gull in Southbury

Tina and Peter Green petermgreen at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 4 17:37:01 EST 2015


Keith,
Thanks so much for your excellent advice and tips for finding the Mew Gull. Your contribution is a fine example of the type of postings that should appear along with rare sightings on CTBirds.
Please forward a few photos to me. Thank you!

Tina Green
Westport
Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 4, 2015, at 4:39 PM, Keith Mueller via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:
> 
> 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 frustrating!
> 
> 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 returned.
> 
> 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 Gull.
> 
> 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.
> 
> Good Luck!
> 
> Regards,
> 
> Keith Mueller
> 
> 
> 
> 
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