[CT Birds] California Gull: Yes!...or maybe No

Christopher Loscalzo closcalz at optonline.net
Fri Mar 25 05:58:48 EDT 2016

On Wednesday, I had the good fortune to be at Hammonasset and obtain
excellent views of the California Gull there.  The bird was feeding and
roosting on the rocks at the end of the Meigs Point jetty and I (along with
others) had the opportunity to observe it in detail, appreciating its unique
features.  Yesterday evening, I returned to Hammonasset to relocate the
bird, if possible.  A visit to the beach and jetty revealed that there were
very few gulls there (there was a pair of Northern Shovelers feeding on the
rocks on the leeward side of the jetty, which was really cool to see, but I
digress).  I had noticed on my drive into the park that there were a lot of
gulls flying over the river north of Willards Island so, after looking for
the gull at the beach, I walked to the end of the Willard's Island trail to
observe the birds there.  Before long, I observed a bird sitting on the top
of one of the pilings that looked like the California Gull I had seen well
the day before. It had a pale bill that appeared to be dipped in black ink,
a pale face, dark eye and intricate brown feathering on its body with brown
secondaries and very dark primaries.  Unfortunately, soon after I spotted
the bird, it was displaced off the piling by an adult Herring Gull (that
looked larger than the bird in question) and it flew off to the west and out
of sight.  As it flew away, I noted a dark brown tail, dark primaries, and
lighter lesser coverts, all good for California Gull.  I was confident in
the ID and thus posted the sighting.  Afterwards, I came to hear of the
observation of a California Gull at the West Haven boat ramp that looks
identical to the Hammonasset bird.  So, there may be two California Gulls
along the CT coast right now.  Or, I was wrong in my ID yesterday.  If so, I
apologize sincerely.   

All of this demonstrates the challenges inherent in gull identification.
Hence, the value of a workshop on the subject, such as the one scheduled for
tomorrow at Stratford Point. I hope that many CT birders will attend.  I'll
certainly be there! 

Best regards and good birding,

Chris Loscalzo,


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