A Quick Update, An Owl, and Some Gulls

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted, but things are starting to slow down a bit. The holidays not only brought some family and friends to town, but also a personal change which I’ll post about in the coming days. I’m also making headway on the next part of my Costa Rica trip report so stayed tuned for that.

For now, kickback and enjoy a few photos and some brief text of a few recent outings……

While attending the November Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club field trip, I photographed the gulls below:

Glaucous Gull – the world’s second largest gull. Notice the relatively short-tail and lack of any black markings.

Glaucous Gull - Lake Michigan shoreline - Sheboygan, WI
Glaucous Gull – Lake Michigan shoreline – Sheboygan, WI

Great Black-backed Gull – the world’s largest gull species. Seen here it completely dwarfs the nearby Ring-billed Gull.

Great Black-backed Gull - Lake Michigan shoreline - Sheboygan, WI
Great Black-backed Gull – Lake Michigan shoreline – Sheboygan, WI
Great Black-backed Gull - Lake Michigan shoreline - Sheboygan, WI
“Feed me Seymour” Great Black-backed Gull – Lake Michigan shoreline – Sheboygan, WI

Although it was cold and snowing at times, it was a typical NWBC November field trip. Much fun was had by all!

From left to right: Stuart, Mike, and myself birding the Lake Michigan shoreline.
From left to right: Stuart, Mike, and myself birding the Lake Michigan shoreline. Photo courtesy of Ross M.
Scanning for waterfowl along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Photo courtesy of Ross M.
Scanning for waterfowl along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Photo courtesy of Ross M.

On this years Appleton Christmas Bird Count (CBC), my mate Stuart was in town for the first time during CBC season and I was fortunate to have him along on my route along with my annual compadre Eric. Stuart’s a gull expert and he’s the one you want standing next to you as you search for rarities.

Gulls over the Fox River during the Appleton Christmas Bird Count - Appleton 12-19-2015
Gulls over the Fox River during the Appleton Christmas Bird Count – Appleton 12-19-2015

A Snowy Owl is always a nice find on a CBC! This was late in the day in crummy lighting conditions, but still worth sharing.

Snowy Owl impersonating a windsock at the Appleton airport during the Christmas Bird Count - Appleton 12-19-2015
Snowy Owl impersonating a windsock at the Appleton airport during the Christmas Bird Count – Appleton 12-19-2015

Until I became a birder, I had no idea how lucky I was to have a rubbish dump nearby. Yesterday (Tuesday, December 22nd) Stuart and I spent a few hours sorting through hundreds of gulls. The gulls feed at the dump and then flock to a nearby field to digest. There were easily 500 gulls in the field and on a nearby rooftop and we could see another 500 flying over the dump.

Picking through a thousand gulls is actually quite fun – it’s like “Where’s Waldo?,” but with gulls. As Stuart has taught me – you’re looking for the one (or two…or three) which looks different from all the others. On this day we tallied 5 species of gull (Herring, Ring-billed, Great Black-backed, Glaucous, and Thayer’s).

Even in bad lighting, you can easily see the noticeably darker mantle (back) of the Great Black-backed Gull versus the Herring and Glaucous Gulls.

From left to right: Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull - Appleton 12-22-2015
From left to right: Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull – Appleton 12-22-2015
The two largest gulls in the world: Great Black-backed Gull & Glaucous Gull - Appleton 12-22-2015
The two largest gulls in the world: Great Black-backed Gull & Glaucous Gull – Appleton 12-22-2015

Hopefully you’ll hear from me again before the end of 2015, but until then…..Bird It Up!

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2 thoughts on “A Quick Update, An Owl, and Some Gulls”

  1. What a dump! And I mean that in the most flattering way. 😀

    Personal change? I must say my curiosity is piqued. I am jealous of all your birds of this post (I have none of them on MY annual list), but I am NOT jealous of that snowy beach scene. Just came in from wandering the property…66 degrees. Supposed to reach 82 today. How’s that for Christmas birding?

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Birding, Matthew. Can’t wait for the next post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry for the looong delay in getting back to you! Yep, some “good for birding” personal change has been underway for a month or so – hence the lack of posts.

    That’s funny about the snow! I guess it all depends on where you come from. We didn’t have any for Christmas which was very disappointing! But a few days later we got 12-15 inches – YAY! I really like winter and the snow – getting out and birding and snowshoeing this time of year can be just beautiful. I was out doing a little birding this morning at zero degrees!

    Hope you had a great Christmas and your New Year is off to a great start!!!

    Like

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