Checklist S10405373

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Location
Tosier Farm

Owner Louis Bevier

Traveling
  • 1
  • 0.6 mi
Checklist Comments

Stopped to scan the immense gull flocks present today. Rain heavy at times but waning to none or only light showers during most of observation. I scanned from the parking lot at Lyebrook used car lot and drove up Rt 23 about halfway to the main Tosier farm buildings. Mostly cloudy, rain off and on, 45° F, NW breeze.

Observations

  1. Number observed: 18
  2. Number observed: 1
  3. Number observed: 1

    Details: Extremely rare locally (inland locality) and perhaps record early date for Maine (first reported this year?). This bird was standing and preening in the pasture north of Rt 104/139. It was adjacent to an adult Herring Gull and a few Ring-billeds nearby. I studied this bird with my Leica scope and 32x lens (image bright and sharp). I spotted the bird while quickly scanning the massive gull flock. The bird's full black head and dark mantle stood out. It was about the size or a bit larger than the nearby Ring-billed Gulls. The black head was a full hood, showing no indication of contracting upward around the nape. The bottom border of the the hood showed a few white feathers, making the bottom border not completely neat and clean. White eye arcs were obvious. The underparts were clean and pure white (no pink). The mantle was dark, slate gray, appearing exactly as expected for a Laughing Gull. The rather longish looking wings showed black primaries with narrow white tips on at least a couple proximal primaries (distal-most primaries appeared to be black to tip). As the bird ruffled its wings while preening, I could see that the black on the primaries was extensive both dorsally and ventrally. (I was keen to make this into a Franklin's Gull, which I thought perhaps more likely at this inland locality in early April!). The bill was mostly black in appearance, but showed some reddish-brown patterning along its sides; bill shape was longish, being somewhat more robust than the nearby Ring-billed Gulls. As the bird scratched, I could see the legs were dark blackish-red (overall very dark). In view for several minutes, I failed to grab my camera, choosing instead to study the bird. When I turned to get my camera, something flushed many of the hundreds of gulls, and I lost the bird. Repeated scans failed to turn it up, although many birds were already departing the area in a large flock, heading southeast toward Waterville. I scanned the flying birds too without refinding the Laughing Gull.
    This species normally arrives in Maine during the last few days of April (earliest in mid-April), but that may be a more recent pattern, with early May being the usual time of arrival. This is a very rare bird inland in Maine, with a couple following Hurricane Irene in late August/early September last year (2011). There is a weak pattern of very early birds also being inland. In fact, Palmer (1949) notes his earliest specimen record was one he shot at Stillwater (=Old Town) 4 May 1937 well up the Penobscot River. More recently, there is a 1 April 2006 record of a breeding plumage Laughing Gull inland at the Exeter Wastewater Treatment Plant, New Hampshire (S. Mirick, eBird list here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S5023997). There have been some other early-mid April inland Laughing Gulls in New Hampshire, and the species has occurred up the Hudson River in the Albany region by late March.
    A possible explanation for this species occurrence here is a low that has been stalled over eastern Maine/New Brunswick, which has been circulating there for several days now. It is possible that many gulls migrating north offshore now have been caught up in that disturbance and drawing inland or downed. There have been many Laughing Gulls (up to 15 or so) noted at the tip of Cape Cod over the past week. These may include birds headed north as well as local arrivals.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
    Media:
  4. Number observed: 12

    Details: All but one of the adults looking quite spiffy!

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 2 10
  5. Number observed: 800

    Details: This could be a gross under-estimate, with over 1000 more likely here. These birds are almost all breeding condition adults. Several pairs seem apparent, and lots of birds are seen giving long-calls. Females solicit by waving and perhaps tapping bill of male while standing in front of male and looking up (female stance a bit lowered). It may be just impression, but the presumed males, all larger with more wedge-shaped heads, also show black spots near tip of bill at gonys (also red spot), whereas females seem only to show a red spot at the gonys.
    My presumption is that these huge numbers of gulls visiting this site are coming from the coast via the Kennebec River. How they find it is unknown, and why they come here is only presumption. Like many dairies, this site has food in the open--old bread to be mixed with feed, and some fish meal (menhaden?) supplements. Perhaps the latter is very attractive to these mostly fish-loving gulls. I think spring migration for Herring Gulls is in full swing, and some of these might also head north to the St. Lawrence via the river valleys, but these birds usually depart by heading SE toward Waterville. Peak numbers seem to occur in mid-late afternoon, with birds arriving over the morning.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 50 750
  6. Number observed: 1

    Details: First cycle bird preening. Base of bill becoming pinkish but dark tip invades basally. All whitish gull with buff cast/bars on wing coverts and underparts. Longish primary projection. Rounded head. Slightly smaller than Herring Gulls nearby.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
  7. Number observed: 2

    Details: Two birds now at the nest on power poles along Fish Brook

  8. Number observed: 1
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male 1
    Female
    Sex Unknown
  9. Number observed: 15
  10. Number observed: 35
  11. Number observed: 5
  12. Number observed: 5
  13. Number observed: 2
  14. Number observed: 2
  15. Number observed: 1
  16. Number observed: 2
  17. Number observed: 1
  18. Number observed: 1
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