Slaty-backed Gull in Half Moon Bay
- Hi Birders,
This morning Ron Thorn and I found a third-cycle Slaty-backed Gull at Venice
Beach in Half Moon Bay. The gull was quite similar to many of the
Slaty-backeds seen at this site during the past several winters. Its most
obvious feature was a very pale, almost whitish eye. The head and nape were
lightly but notably streaked with brown and the streaking on the side of the
head tended to coalesce around the eye, accentuating its paleness. The pale
underparts had extensive brown splotches, especially on the breast sides.
The mantle was a dark slate gray, darker than the surrounding Western Gulls.
The bill was stout and showed extensive paleness distally and basally but
had a large dark mid-section. The bill was relatively parallel sided. The
tertial crescent was quite broad. During a wing stretch we were able to
detect at least one of the "pearls" created by the white tips to the gray
tongues of some of the outer primaries. Our views of the extended wing were
brief and we couldn't discern the exact pattern. The tail was white at the
base and had a broad incomplete blackish band distally. The short legs were
a deep pink color. This gull was approximately the same size as many of the
nearby Western Gulls but due to its shorter legs did not stand as tall as
surrounding Westerns and Glaucous-wingeds. It also showed the typical
pot-bellied aspect that many Slaty-backed have. We had brief looks at this
bird again around 3pm when Ron refound the bird. Unfortunately for us, beach
walkers put the gulls up and we were unable to relocate it.
Today there were at least 7,000-8,000 gulls present, so refinding this bird
might be a bit of challenge. Bring your good luck charm.
Other gulls present included the first cycle Glaucous Gull that has been
around for several weeks, at least 12 Glaucous-winged x Herring hybrids, one
Glaucous x Glaucous-winged, and perhaps 8-10 Thayer's Gulls.
Matthew Dodder and his group were gull watching nearby and we were able to
show them the Slaty-backed. Matthew returned the favor by getting us on the
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