Monday, November 9, 2009

Larusology- Introduction

I have been studying the large gulls of the genus Larus intently for the last five years. I have the good fortune of having access to two large landfills locally one in Dafter, Michigan and the other in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The latter is not open to the public for gull veiwing but I have arranged a permit. Dafter Landfill is open to the public and is a great place to study gulls in the fall. Michigan's only accepted Slaty-backed Gull record is from this site on Nov.29th, 1981. At peak season in November I would estimate the local gull flock to be in the 5000 range.

Correction- Skye Hass pointed out correctly that the Slaty-backed Gull record is actually from the old Chippewa County dump that was in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

Adult winter American Herring Gull

The landfills afford the opportunity to study these birds very closely and for prolonged periods. The "gull season" starts in mid October with the arrival of juvenile Thayer's, Kumlien's Gulls and Great Black-Gulls as the season progresses we see start seeing more advanced birds and usually in November the arrival of Glaucous Gulls. Ring-billed Gulls thin out by early November with stragglers mostly along the St. Mary's River until the New Year. By Christmas the gull flock has been reduced to less than 1000 birds but with a higher percentage of white-winged gulls especially Glaucous. By February a small handfull of Herring Gulls and an occasional Glaucous remain.

Juvenile Glaucous Gull

Unlike the lower Great Lakes, Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare but nearly annual. We have yet to document a California Gull locally but I have been looking very dilegently. Mew Gull has also evaded detection. The best local area for small gulls is Whitefish Point with Sabine's and Kittiwake being yearly visitors and occasional sightings of Little and Franklin's Gull. Neither Ivory or Ross's Gulls have been noted in the area.

I am very keenly interested in bird photography. I have a large and growing collection of gull photos which I hope to share via this blog. I am learning ongoingly the values and pitfalls of photography in regards to gull identification. I hope to use this forum to voice my various musings on gull identification and related issues with illustrative photographs.

1 comment:

  1. Kirk, from my perusal of your blog - this is the go to blog for gulls. I hope you can keep it up. Great research, history and photos on every post.