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ICELAND GULL (glaucoides!), Humboldt County

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  • Rob Fowler
    Hello birders, Posting this for Todd Easterla who doesn t have access to a computer: It was definitely a great start to the new year for a few fortunate
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2007
      Hello birders,
      Posting this for Todd Easterla who doesn't have access to a computer:

      It was definitely a great start to the new year for a few fortunate birders
      today on the South Spit of Humboldt Bay. Todd Easterla, after finding a 3rd
      cycle Slaty-backed Gull yesterday on the Centerville CBC, found an apparent
      1st cycle ICELAND GULL of the nominate form, glaucoides, while looking for
      the Slaty-backed. The bird was present in a gull roost on a sand spit near
      the northern end of the South Spit and was first seen by Todd and Tanner
      Easterla, John Hunter and, about a half-hour after the initial finding, was
      joined by Scott Carey, Jim Tietz, and myself. The bird was found by Todd
      around 1:00 p.m and seen until approximately 2:00 p.m. when it then flew off
      with other gulls; it was followed by Todd and I until it dissapeared from
      our view miles south of us in the southernmost portion of Humboldt Bay. The
      bird was photographed by Todd, Tanner, and Scott and it sounds like some
      decent photos were taken for documentation. The bird was very easy to pick
      out of the flock of gulls it was present with as it was overall just a
      "white" looking bird and was similar in size and structure to a Thayer's
      Gull. I'll save the fine details of the bird for the CBRC write up but if
      one would like to know what this bird looked like it was most similar to
      photo number 246 in the Gulls of North America, Europe, and Asia by Klaus
      Malling Olsen and Hans Larsson. It was different from this photo, however,
      in that the most distinct marbling on the wings were present most noticeably
      on the greater coverts and some on the median coverts, and possibly a little
      marbling on the lesser covs and scapulars (only really seen at certain
      angles in relation to the sun). The undertail coverts were white with
      horizontal light brown barring. The primary extension past the tail was very
      long. In flight the wings were pale with no hints of dark in any of the
      remiges. The bill was small with a pinkish base and a dark distal 1/3 of the
      bill that wasn't as clearly demarcated as on a Glaucous Gull of similar age.
      The true color of the bill was only really noticeable (to me, at least) when
      it was in direct sunlight, otherwise looking darkish. Anyways, with some
      brief research this may only be the second record that I know of of the
      nominate glaucoides Iceland Gull in California, the only other one of an
      apparent adult in Sonoma County some years ago. Correct me if I'm wrong.

      For people wanting to look for this bird take Highway 101 to Hookton Slough
      Road which is north of the town of Loleta. Take Hookton Slough Road west,
      which sooner or later turns into Table Bluff Road, following it all the way
      till you get to the south spit of Humboldt Bay. Once at the south spit
      continue driving north to about the northern third of the spit. Looking
      northeast sooner or later you'll see a large lone cypress in the distance
      (this is the only distinct large tree in the area). On the east side of the
      road there is a hunter access point that is about a 1/2-3/4 mile southwest
      of that lone cypress. Pull into that access area and park at the end next to
      the bay. If you reach a gravel road that goes east from the main road
      towards the large cypress you've gone too far. Looking north-northeast there
      is a sandspit that the gull flock was roosting on and is also a popular area
      with Brant that use the area for aquiring grit. Only when the tide lowers
      does this spit appear. Due to the tide I think that anytime after noon the
      spit should become visible and gulls should be present for maybe 3 hours
      after that. Good luck if you try for it!!!!!

      Happy New Year,

      Rob Fowler
      Arcata, CA

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