English and Scientific names:

Glaucous Gull ,

Number of individuals:

2 first winter

Locality: LOUISIANA:

Cameron Parish

 

Specific Locality:

Holly Beach, about 3-5 miles west of Holly Beach Community

 

Date(s) when observed:

March 28 (2 birds) and 29 (1 bird), 2009 

 

Time(s) of day when observed:

9:30 to 10:30 AM

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Lafayette, LA

 

 

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Mac Myers on 3/29

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Boslers on 3/28, Gary Broussard on 3/29

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Sunny, light on my side.

Optical equipment:

Zeiss 10x40ís, Kowa TSN w/ 20-60 zoom, Nikon d50 w/200 mm lens.

 

Distance to bird(s):

Average about 40 yards, down to 10-15 yards at one point in its flight.

Duration of observation:

About 1 hour on 3/28, .5 hour on 3/28

Habitat:

Gulf beach

 

 

Behavior of bird:

Bird #1 was first observed from about a mile away as it kited in the wind. It landed among a small group of gulls by the time I drove up to it, sat tight for 5 minutes, then launched unprovoked and began to kite to the west into a stiff wind. It flew west for about 2 miles then landed behind the screen of salt cedars where the highway leaves the beach, a few hundred yards away. I spotted a Glaucous in the general area, but thought it looked smaller-headed.. It proved to be a smaller bird (#2). A group of people spooked it and it flew and landed next to the #1 a bit further up the beach. I walked up the beach and photographed both together, then the birds got up. One flew east and landed in a big gull flock near the location visible from the highway where the Boslers photographed a Glaucous later that day.

 

Description:

The two birds were superficially similar: big all-white gulls with pink bills tipped in black.However, closer inspection of Bird #1 showed slightly perceptible blurry transverse ghost bars of muted pale brownish throughout the body underparts. The marking were coarsest and darkest on the distal undertail coverts and rump. The underwing coverts, rump, and uppertail coverts were also marked by bars, but the barring in these areas was of finer, tighter vermiculations. The flight feathers of the wings appeared completely white, and translucent. The primaries showed wear, with the extreme tips skeletonized. The tail appeared to have very pale transverse barring. The legs were a pale purplish or pink. The bill was heavy, deep at the base, emerging parallel-sided, with a pronounced gonys. The ground color of the bill was similar to the legs, pale pinkish with a suggestion of purple tones. The rear edge of the black tip of the bill began just anterior to the gonydeal angle on the mandible, and ran roughly vertically upward to the cutting edge, perhaps slightly angled posteriorly. It began slightly more distally on the cutting edge of the maxilla, then jutted back to the culmen at about a 60 degree angle. The extreme tip of the bill seemed slightly paler. The irides were dark amber. The color of the orbital ring wasnít discernible to me given the paleness of the bird and the bright lighting.

 

Bird #2 was similar, but perceptibly more gracile, with less massive body, smaller head, and thinner bill. This bird had a somewhat distinctive pattern of pale blotches on the right flank that appeared to be present on Gary Broussardís photos of a Glaucous Gull from 3/29. This bird also had very worn primary tips that were worn down to needle-like points, much more pronounced than on Bird #1. This smaller bird is similar to and perhaps identical to earlier photos of Glaucous Gull from this stretch of beach by Beauzay on 2/21 and Huner on 3/12, and is presumably the same bird photographed by the Boslers on 3/29.

 

Bird #1, the larger bird, seems to have been detected--or at least documented--only on 3/28.

 

†††††††††††

Voice:

Voice not detected.

Similar species:

Albino gulls, especially Herring Gulls, need to be considered. However, the bill pattern and barring of the plumage of these birds are typical for Glaucous. Iceland/Kumlienís Gulls are smaller, with smaller bills.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photos from 3/28 and 3/29.

 

Previous experience with this species:

Only from a couple of previous sightings in Louisiana, but all in this plumage.††

 

Identification aids:

 None.

This description is written from:

Details committed to memory during scope viewing. These details seem accurate according to review of the photos.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain:

 

Yes.

Reporter:

Paul Conover

Date and time:

4/10/2009