Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strange Birds

For the past several months the only birds to be viewed were black - the Common Raven. (Two or three weeks back I found myself scrambling for my camera in my coat pocket over at the school as a bird flew by. Initially I thought it was a gull of some sort but as it turned out it just the light making a strange reflection off a raven.) Recently other birds have slowly made an appearance - a sure sign of the encroaching Spring. I'm not 100% sure what species of gulls we have here. I pulled out my field guide but given that I'm still very much a novice at identification and they were a little far away, I can't say for certain. I probably should have grabbed the binoculars but I forgot them in my haste. At any rate, after what seems an eternity, Spring has finally arrived en force.


Ashley, Danielle & Benjamin said...

WOW, you were excited to see a garbage gull?? You really do need to get out Darcy :)

Clare said...

Don't worry about the challenges of gull identification Darcy, they are amongst the most challenging species to ID at times.

These are likely Glaucous Gulls (Larus hyperboreus) which have arrived in numbers the last week. I say likely because there are sometimes Iceland Gulls (Larus glaucoides) amongst them and they are virtually identical (smaller size, smaller beak in proportion, red eye ring, and wings that extend a little farther past the tail at rest). I spent a good deal of time today pouring over a couple of photos trying to decide if the bird in it was an Iceland Gull or not.

The next gulls to arrive in numbers will be Thayer's Gulls (Larus thayeri), similar looking but with a generally darker grey mantle, black wing tips, and a dark iris. They are also slightly smaller.

The other gulls we get are Ivory Gulls (Pagophila eburnea)- unlikely in town; Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) - even less likely in town but common at the Floe Edge; Ross' Gull (Rhodostethia rosea)-very rare around here; Sabine's Gull (Xema sabini) - possible but I've never seen one here. Add into the mix some gull like birds - three jaegers and Arctic Tern and there is a lot to consider

Garbage? Hardly.

Way Way Up said...

Ashley & Danielle - lol....definitely not garbage pickers. I like to see them as skilled survivors even if I don't know exactly what type they are.

Thanks Clare. My first guess was Glaucous Gull since I didn't see any black on their wings but I wasn't sure. Now I don't feel so bad about the difficulties of identification. Initially I thought I would be able to identify it pretty quick with just a peek in my field guide but 5-10 minutes later I was still flipping between 3 or 4 different possible gulls with a bewildered look on my face I'm sure. I probably should have grabbed the binoculars but I figured they would be gone by the time I got out the door, especially with a raven nearby. I figured since it was the bigger bird it would chase the gulls off but they held their ground and the raven flew off.

Dave said...

Darcy - My first guess was Ceegulls (featherus flybyus)