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Slaty-backed Gull in Half Moon Bay

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  • Dan Singer
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2008
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      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
      Glaucous Gull.



      Dan Singer

      Pacifica







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