Laughing Gull (?) @ SBMBSA (San Diego Co.)
- Hi, all! I'm sending a copy of the e-mail I sent to Guy McCaskie about this
bird rather than retype the whole thing (only I didn't attach the sketch, of
I'm attaching a sketch of a gull we (myself and Graham, a visiting birder
from Britain) had at South Bay Marine Biological Study Area this morning (Friday,
19 MAR 04) that I figure has to be a Laughing Gull unless proven otherwise;
I've seen tons of these things in Florida and Texas, but what threw me about
this bird is that it had (pretty much) the wing and tail pattern of a 1st-year
bird but appeared to be pretty clean white below; I didn't notice the dusky
gray that you usually see on young Laughings. But the first thing to strike me
was the head: a long (for a gull), droopy all black bill, and a subtle dark
smudge behind the eye, more extensive than a Bonie but not nearly as much as a
Franklin's. The mantle was pretty uniform in that we discerned no patterning,
but it had the "dirty" look of a young bird, not smooth by any means, but there
were no paler feather edgings as in many young gulls; neither did the mantle
look as brown as Sibley's illustration of the 1st year bird. It was overall
dark brownish-gray (more on the gray side), blending to black on the primaries.
The tail was white with a broad black band; I couldn't discern any white
edge to the outer tail feathers as a Franklin's would have. I didn't catch the
leg color, nor did I get a good look at the underwing pattern. The overall
gizz was larger and slimmer than I would expect for a Franklin's.
We were on the dike between the parking lot and the gated fence, facing east,
and the bird came in from the northeast, hung above the dike a few feet
higher than eye level for probably no longer than ten seconds (if that long), then
headed south towards the south end of the bay, then west towards the ocean,
gaining altitude the whole time, so I really didn't think it was chaseable.
If you have any questions please feel free to call or e-mail me. If the file
is too large to download, please let me know and I'll make a smaller one.
Oh, we also had a male Eurasian Wigeon from the same dike; the tide was very
high, and there were a lot of pockets of water on the north side of the dike;
the wigeon was in one of these along with a couple of Americans. We also had
three Blue-winged Teal fly in on the west (Del Dios) side of Lake Hodges; I
don't recall ever having them there before.
Mary Beth Stowe
San Diego, CA
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