Friday, February 3, 2012

The Iceland Gull Cometh


Well nerds. I was shocked last night to learn an Iceland Gull was reported near Sausalito, joining the thousands of other gulls feasting on herring and their reproductive products. After a job interview this morning, I made my way over there, and had to endure an agonizing five (5) seconds of searching before I located the bird.

Iceland Gulls are exceptionally rare on the West Coast of the United States; their scarcity is due to a mix of genuine rarity, a sad and poorly understood clusterfuck of a taxonomic nightmare (Is a Thayer's Gull an Iceland Gull? Is a Kumlien's Gull part Thayer's Gull? Is a Kumlien's an Iceland Gull? Is Kumlien's Gull its own species? Yadda yadda yadda...), debatable field marks, and people being horrible at identifying gulls.

Originally reported as a glaucoides Iceland Gull, I would wager it's more like a bleached Kumlien's. Hell, maybe it has some Thayer's in it, but I've certainly never seen anything like it. Anyways, I'm not going to to jump in to the semantics of Iceland/Kumlien's/Thayer's Gull i.d., I'll leave it to you.











The ultimate shot for larophiles. It has a tail band but no apparent contrast between the inner and outer primaries. Whatever.


Getting harassed by the big bullies.


Trispecies Sandwich.


Here is a pooping Thayer's Gull for your edification. There are multitudes of Thayer's at Fort Baker right now; some are very bleached and approach the paleness of the Iceland Gull. Some look dark and crisp. This one is somewhere in the middle.

11 comments:

  1. That's the most beautiful bird I have ever seen!


    Nah, it isn't. But it is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing, appreciate the background information too. I am definitely one of those les horribles gulls identificiones you mention.

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  2. I am also not good. But I can at least go track down gulls that other people find...

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  3. Dude, iceland is rarities in Japan too, but we do have a few every year.

    Where is Ivory? My question!

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    1. I know dude!!! I don't think any have come south this year...maybe next winter.

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  4. Cool gulls! We don't have any of the above around here, that I know of anyway:)

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    1. California birders are still craving a Greater Black-backed...someday!

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  5. As my son would say, "It's a damn seagull."

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    1. I do not judge those afraid to tread into the murky waters of gull identification...well, not that much anyways.

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  6. ooooh gulls! I'm heading to Point Reyes in a few weeks where I am sure to ponder many a lovely gull... and then just shake my head (someday I will have these gull-id powers...someday!).

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  7. Come to Niagara Falls, NY! We have plenty of gulls...up to 19 species have been recorded along the Niagara River. Saw about 50 Great Black Backs just this weekend.

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