LOUISIANA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE

REPORT FORM

     

1. English and Scientific names: California Gull (Larus californicus)

 

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage): 1 in first winter plumage

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3. Locality: LOUISIANA: (parish)Cameron

 

Specific Locality: Holly Beach, about 5 miles west of community

 

4. Date(s) when observed: 15 October 1994

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5. Time(s) of day when observed: mid-afternoon, I think about 2:30 p.m.

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6. Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Lafayette, LA

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7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): Gary Broussard

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8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

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9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light): Badly overcast day, but light was sufficient for videoscoping.

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10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition): Sony camcorder by itself and through Kowa 20-60 scope.

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11. Distance to bird(s): ca. 20-30 yards

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12. Duration of observation: ca. 30 seconds.

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13. Habitat: Gulf beach adjacent to highway

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14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation:Bird was feeding on a washed up fish, and keeping Laughing Gulls at bay; we were driving down the highway.We were in a hurryóI recall that I had to be back in Lafayette at 4, and we were running late.However, we saw a dark, interesting gull that I thought had potential for a California, so I pulled over, videotaped the bird through the camcorder by itself from the truck, had Gary flush it to get wing shots, and then quickly filmed it up close through the scope for later study.I remember feeling pretty good about it, but I never went back and looked at the video.I didnít see it again until June 2011, 17 years later, whereupon I remembered it and again felt it was a California.

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15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species):

 

What I can recall from the time was that it was a gull that didnít seem as big and bulky as most Herrings at first glance, and given a superfical look on a cloudy day seemed overall dark brown.The bill was bicolored, and the wings very fairly evenly dark without the obvious inner primary flash of Herrings.

 

In looking at the images, the wings indeed are fairly smoothly brown, darker on the flight feathers and the basal halves of the secondary coverts, with a thin pale edge to the secondary coverts.The distal sections of the inner webs of the inner primaries have paler areas that give a semblance of an inner primary flash, but within the range of other Californias Iíve seen. Tail dark, rump slightly paler.Folded wings longer than tail, primaries edged pale brown.

 

Head small and round, bill gracile.Bill tipped blackish from point just proximal to gonys on mandible, just distal to nares on maxilla.Dark bill tip discrete, not blurry, following the typical shape of young Californias.Basal 2/3 of bill pale, pinkish or yellowish.

 

Head in closer study reveals a capped look, mottled pale brown on crown and auriculars versus whitish on chin, throat, sides of neck adjacent to lower edge of auriculars. This whitish area streaked with brown.Head pretty ratty.†††

 

Eyes brown, legs not visible on stills.†††††††††

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16. Voice: Donít recall, canít hear on video.

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17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):

First year Herrings with different wing panel showing more contrast between secondarys and coverts, paler inner primaries, typically without bicolored bill.Second year Herrings with similar bill, but again, with different look to upperwing.Lesser Black-backed Gull with dark bill, paler rump and tail base, typically paler head and body.

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18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): Video, from which the accompanying stills are taken.

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19. Previous experience with this species: At the time, I hadnít seen a first winter California.Since then, some experience.

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20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

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a. at time of observation:

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b. after observation:

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21. This description is written from: mostly from study of the video and stills.I remember the basics of the sighting, but not individual details.As a matter of fact, I never looked at the bird through binos, only a black-and-white viewfinder.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: Yes.

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23. Date: 8/5/2011†††

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