Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Iceland Gulls and another Marked Ring-billed Gull, Collins Pond Caribou

On the 20th, Judy Roe emailed that she had seen a gull with green patches on its wing at Collins Pond.  I stopped in the next afternoon to see if I could spot it.

There was a good sized flock (~200) gulls bathing and drinking on the pond and the turnover seemed pretty steady with lots of birds arriving and other departing regularly.  Over half of the crowd was Great Black-backed Gulls with most of the remainder being Herring Gulls.  It didn't take long for a first cycle (hatched this year) Iceland Gull to appear and then a second!  These young gulls were ghostly cream white without a speck of black on them.  They had dark eyes and black bills that were substantially thinner and lighter looking than the bills on the Herring and Black-backed Gulls.   A third Iceland Gull with a bi-colored bill was a second-cycle bird and a bit lighter than the younger gulls.

There were also a dozen or so Ring-billed Gulls in the mix.  Most of these were hanging together in one part of the flock.  Surprisingly, it wasn't long before a green winged gull appeared among them!  A closer look at the bird showed that both wings had plastic tags on them.  The green tags had numbers..."111".  Got a couple passable photos just before the sun set and whole flock departed westward.

We've had a couple other marked Ring-billed Gulls in northern Maine and these were marked as part of  project to monitor gulls that roost on drinking water supplies in Massachusetts.  I wrote to them to inquire about this new bird.   Senior Biologist Ken MacKenzie was quick to confirm the green marked bird was one of his.

Here's the details provided by Ken:

Here is some specific information on K111:
Captured 3/15/11 at Price Chopper Plaza, Rt. 20, Worcester, MA
Capture location (GPS): 42.21324, -71.79617
Captured using a rocket net baited with crackers and bread
Sub-adult ring-billed gull
Green wing-tags: K111
Orange leg band: 48
Federal leg band: 1146-31731
Released on site

04/09/11: Orlando's Farm, Brookfield Road, Charlton, MA

This morning I returned to Collins Pond to find the single digit temperatures had predictably frozen the pond solid.  So much for waterbird watching here for a while!


grammie g said...

Hi Bill...now that is quite a motley crew..haha!
The green patch thing,sure would have gotten me puzzled!! Nothing like sticking out in the crowd!
It's great that you have people who keep you informed on the oddities in the county!!
Great info thanks!

Bill Sheehan said...

Have a great bunch of birders in the area is something I'm Thankful for!

Thanks Grace!