Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mystery Gull Time!!

My first real day (half day) of birding for the year was a the Tip of Point Pelee this morning with Jeremy.  Needless to say, even though it was slightly above freezing it was very damp (85% humidity) that just went right through you no matter how many layers you wear.  Of course standing in one spot for hours doesn't help.

As always, the tip had a few goodies.  A single Killdeer, and 3 American Pipits greeted us right away and we got around 220 White-winged Scoters by the end of the morning, along with 5 Redhead, and 1 Common Loon, among the many other regular waterfowl present. 

In the gull department, all the 4 regular gulls were accounted for (HEGU,RBGU,GBBG,BOGU), along with a juvenile Glaucous Gull that flew in later.

Juvenile Glaucous Gull.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill
The highlight of the morning was an apparent Great Black-backed X Glaucous Gull, or perhaps a Great Black-backed X Herring Gull hybrid that Jeremy picked out.  The bird was the same size as a Great Black-backed, with a grey mantle that was slightly a darker grey than the surrounding Herring and Ring-bills. It also had a shorter primary projection than the Great Black-backed Gull.  A neat bird to say the least. Any thoughts anyone?

 Hybrid with Ring-billed Gull.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill
Hybrid gull with adult Great Black-backed Gull.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill
Hybrid Gull and Adult Great Black-backed Gull.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill
Hybrid Gull leaving the scene.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill.


  1. Marianne, some good birds at Pelee Tip recently! I have not been there since just before Christmas.
    Maybe next weekend...!

  2. Love the synchronized walking photos of the GBBG and GBBGxHERG/GBBGxGLGU lol.

  3. Comment by Kevin McLaughlin:
    " As the size of this gull looks to be very much like the nearby GBBG, I thought of a Glaucous x GBBG. That combo, from the few that I have experience with, should have more white at the wing tips. Other things favour a Herring x GBBG and a large first generation individual. The mantle shade seems OK as it is the right type of medium gray that I have seen on other suspected hybrids involving these two. The bill shape looks good as well as the pattern of black on the outer primaries along with what I see as a pure white tip to P10 (this is variable however). The biggest feature that says Herring Gull is involved is the blotchy streaking or mottling on the back of the neck and the sides of the breast. Adult Glaucous are quite relatively unmarked in this area in winter. GBBGs are similar in being lightly marked but it is reasonable to see a Herring influence here. I think this could be considered as a possible third winter gull with the black on the bill, mottling on the upper wing coverts and black on the leading edge of the spread wing."