Tag Archives: Gulls

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, October 4, 2019

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull with Ring-billed Gulls (click to see the larger version)

The birding highlight for me on October 4 was this crisply marked juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. I can’t remember the last time I saw a full juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull anywhere – usually by this time of the year first cycle birds have molted in at least a few second-generation upperpart feathers. Lesser Black-backed Gulls have increased dramatically in North America in recent years, including the Great Lakes, where they are uncommon but regular. I wonder where this one hatched? Europe? Iceland? Somewhere in North America? Impossible to know but fun to think about. More photos are at my eBird checklist for the day, link below.

eBird Checklist
October 4, 2019

Franklin’s Gulls, May 23, 2019

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull (click to see the larger version)

Three Franklin’s Gulls stopped at Montrose Beach on May 23. Two of these birds were immatures, the other an adult in alternate plumage. Breeding plumaged adult Franklin’s Gulls are always a treat to see; it’s by far the rarest age and plumage we get at Montrose. Franklin’s Gulls are uncommon but regular visitors to Montrose in spring and fall. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56650147

Abbondanza!, May 19, 2019

Least Bittern

Least Bittern (click to see the larger version)

Montrose was on fire with birds on May 19, hands down the best day of the spring. I ended up with 107 species for the day, 103 in the morning and 4 more on a return visit in the afternoon and evening, my second best daily total ever there (over 130 species were reported to eBird for the day, which is about as well as we do). The Magic Hedge lived up to its name and was bursting with warblers, thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers. One of the highlights was a slightly out of place male Least Bittern in the peripheral plantings. We live for days like this. We suffer through Midwestern winters for experiences like this. My highlights include

Piping Plover (2)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (first cycle bird)
Least Bittern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo (4)
Clay-colored Sparrow
Nelson’s Sparrow
Yellow-breasted Chat
24 species of warblers including Mourning, Connecticut, Black-throated Blue, and Hooded, plus gobs of Bay-breasted, Magnolias, and Blackpolls

eBird Checklist (morning visit)
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56488818

eBird Checklist (p.m. visit)
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56512714

Lesser Black-backed Gulls, May 13, 2019

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull (click to see the larger version)

I ran over to Montrose on the afternoon of May 13 to check the beach for gulls, terns, and shorebirds. Montrose Beach has been excellent this spring, thanks in part to efforts by Chicago Park District security to keep unleashed dogs off the public beach. I was surprised to see so many Lesser Black-backed Gulls – I counted at least 5, 3 first cycle birds and 2 second/third cycle type birds. I also saw a first cycle and adult Iceland Gull. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so many LBBGs at one time at Montrose. My eBird report has more photos; follow the link below to see them.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56250182

The Sweet Season, May 9, 2019

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk. Photo by M. Ferguson (click to see the larger version)

The sweet season has commenced. Days like May 9 make suffering through Chicago winters worth it. I don’t know if the volume of birds was better than the fantastic weekend of May 4-5 but the variety certainly was. I tallied 95 species in about 3.5 hours of morning birding, my best spring total to date (according to eBird, over 120 species were reported). My highlights include 3 Black-bellied Plovers, Willet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common and Forster’s Terns, a roosting Common Nighthawk, 5 woodpeckers, 19 species of warblers (Pine, Northern Parula, and Blue-winged being the best), and Clay-colored Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56042131

California Gull, May 4, 2019

California Gull

California Gull on the right, with Herring Gulls (click to see the larger version)

Continuing the trend of unusual gulls this spring, a first cycle type California Gull joined the Herring Gulls at Montrose Beach on May 4. California Gulls are rare at Montrose, with only about four previous records. Also, this is the first immature bird for us, the other records consisting of adults. I identified it as a California Gull by the darker gray upperpart feathers, rounder head, and downturned gape crease. More photos and a detailed description are at the link below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56913340