Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gullin at Barton's Cove 2/27 (Turner's Falls)

I birded the Turner's Falls/Barton Cove, along the Connecticut River, late this afternoon until just after dusk. Last year on this date, I had seen a (THE) Slaty-backed Gull, that James Smith had found in 2009, and I figured...well hoped...the bird might make a return visit to see if I might be there.
I expected more ice, but that might have been washed away by the recent heavy rain.
A tagged Ring-billed Gull #242
...and # 240, I also saw #'s 239, 243, 245 and 246; a total of 6 ( I will follow up with the DCR's cature information once i receive it.)
********comments from the DRC "gull staff"*******
Thanks for getting these sightings to me. You won’t be surprised to learn that all of these gulls were captured at Unity Park, above the falls in Turner’s Falls on 2/5/10. Every time we have tagged gulls there, they never go anywhere. All the sightings we get from them are right back where we caught them. There is a gentleman there that feeds them on a pretty regular basis. I guess they don’t feel the need to go anywhere else.
The first good bird was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull with nice bright yellow legs, later I would find another with very dull yellow legs. Two had been reported in the area and these were likely the same birds.

An Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Good numbers of Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls were in the area, some were on the Barton's Cove side and many others near the Turner's Falls dam. Scanning through the birds near the dam I was able to find a few Iceland Gulls and then a first year Glaucous Gull.

A fuzzy photo of a first year Iceland Gull just left of center.
A "ghostly" first year Glaucous Gull on the water and the same bird (photo'd again below) spent a good deal of time with Great Black-backs on the dam.

The same "Glauc" as above with Black-backs and Herring Gulls.
After spending more time scanning and rescanning the flocks of gulls I found another Glaucous, this time a 2nd year bird, and a few icelands totaling 4 (all 1st yr. birds). I looked carefully for a Slaty-backed and Thayer's but nothing I saw looked even close.
I had one bird I thought might be a Herring X Glaucous Hybrid and I have included a few, very poor, digi-scope shots below. To me this bird was larger and bulkier in the field than these photos show, the bird's wing projection beyond the tail looked a bit short too. Feel free to comment here of via email (
First year bird just below center, possible "nelson's gull"? (Glauc. X Herring hybrid). After reviewing "Gulls of the Americas, Howell and Dunn, I am inclined to think this is a "just" 2nd cycle Herring Gull.

Same bird another shot.

Nice full moon just after dusk, it "ducked" in and out of the clouds.

The bird list:

Canada Goose.... 84
Mute Swan ....4
Mallard.... 25
Common Goldeneye.... 5
Hooded Merganser.... 3
Common Merganser.... 4
Bald Eagle.... 2
Red-tailed Hawk.... 1
Ring-billed Gull.... 400
Herring Gull (American).... 400
Iceland Gull (Kumlien's).... 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull.... 2
Glaucous Gull.... 2
Great Black-backed Gull.... 275
Rock Pigeon.... 15
Mourning Dove.... 6
Downy Woodpecker.... 1
Blue Jay.... 1
American Crow.... 25
Black-capped Chickadee.... 3
Tufted Titmouse.... 2
White-breasted Nuthatch.... 2
Northern Mockingbird.... 1
European Starling.... 75
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored).... 5
Northern Cardinal.... 2
House Finch.... 3
American Goldfinch.... 1
House Sparrow.... 20


Kim said...

You got some great gulls there Tom. Interesting to see the different color on that tagged gull.

Love the pic of the Lesser Black-backed Gull and am jealous of the Glaucous (have yet to get that one on my life list). Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday!

Tom Pirro said...

Kim, this area is one of the better inland gull spots in Massachusetts. Of course Wachuestts Res. is too, but often the birds are close at Turner's Falls. If you recall the DCR's presentation they use different colors for the Conn River and Quabbin area than Wachusett.