[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.

Good Luck!


Keith Mueller

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