Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gettin' Back: Gloomy Day Gulls

Long time, no blog. Some kind of bug kicked my butt and kept me in bed for three days. I had gotten in a hike on Monday afternoon, but other than some Chickadees, a large flock of American Robins, and a few Ravens overhead there was little to report. I did see a nice Ferruginous Hawk on my drive back from Boulder County, but puling to the side of a busy highway only allowed me passing looks from a distance.
So after three days of sleep and a long Friday in the office, I was ready for some pond hopping where the focus was on scrutinizing gulls, rather than a whole lot of walking. After reading more reports from others about the Glaucous and other uncommon gulls in my own home town I had to give it another shot.
My most productive stop was once again Indian Peaks Pond, where this time arriving at mid-day showed me much larger flocks to scan through. I think I am getting better at picking out the Herrings and occasional Thayer's Gulls, but the bird below gave me pause:

I believe that it is a California Gull. It is darker than the Ring-billeds around it and slightly larger - and it had the black ring with red spot on its bill. As always, if I am wrong please leave me a comment or email to let me know where I went wrong. Gull ID sessions usually take me hours, flipping back and forth between species across numerous different guides. Not necessarily a bad thing when half watching Olympic coverage.
Next up is one of the rare birds that has been seen repeatedly in the area.

Here we have a Lesser Black-backed Gull. In addition to the obvious darker coloring and red spot on the bill, take a closer look at the bill and leg color.

It is described as a bright yellow color by Sibley. Despite the darkness of the day and the loss of some color clarity, the difference between it and the Ring-billed bill is clear.

Finally, amidst all the snow and dreary skies this Western Meadowlark was showing off its new breeding plumage. My picture failed to show just how bright that yellow appeared against the snowy background, but it was a literal 'bright-spot' in an otherwise drab day.

I still failed to locate the other rare gulls, but considering the movement of gulls between the numerous reservoirs, lakes, and landfills in the Broomfield-Boulder area it may still be a while.

2010 Count: 63
Lifetime: 206

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