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1598Southern Lake County

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  • Floyd Hayes
    Jan 17, 2006
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      Yesterday was by far my best day birding in the
      county. Here are the highlights, beginning with the
      species whose identity is certain:

      GLAUCOUS GULL: First-basic immature on dock at Austin
      Park, Clearlake, from 10:25-10:40 am (absent at 3:15
      and 4:30 pm); a photo is posted at:


      TUFTED DUCK: Adult male with long tuft, pure black
      back and pure white sides with 680 scaup (in three
      flocks) at Borax Lake, from 4:10-4:25 pm. No photo
      (drizzling, poor light).

      Possible KUMLIEN'S ICELAND GULL: First-basic immature
      on dock at Pirate’s Cove, Clearlake Park, from
      8:00-9:15 am (absent during early to mid-afternoon).
      This bird’s identity is controversial. However, a well
      known gull expert in Newfoundland and Jon Dunn here in
      CA thought the photos looked great for Kumlien’s (a
      few others have disagreed; I'm looking forward to
      receiving more opinions). If anybody is lucky enough
      to relocate this bird (driving directions are given at
      the end of this message), good views or photos of the
      secondaries would be useful in evaluating its
      identity. Photos with a link to comments (so you can
      judge for yourself whether chasing this bird might be
      worthwhile) are posted at:


      OTHER GULLS: The identity of two other interesting
      gulls at Clearlake Park eluded confirmation. The first
      was a 3rd-basic immature with very dark back and wings
      (lacking white-tipped primaries), seen for <1 min at
      9:10 am. It had a bicolored bill, pink legs and a
      broad white secondary skirt. When I noticed it had a
      pale iris, dark smudge behind the eye and dark
      streaking on the hindneck, I instantly jumped into my
      car to retrieve my camera battery which was recharging
      at a nearby gas station, but when I returned 4 minutes
      later the bird was gone. I’m convinced it was either a
      Western or Slaty-backed Gull, but don't know which.
      The pale iris and dark markings were real but perhaps
      not quite as contrasting as I would have liked for a

      The second gull was scoped out on the lake by Jerry
      White in the early afternoon (when the gulls had
      abandoned the docks). According to Jerry, it "seemed
      to fit an adult Kumlien's quite closely," but there
      are no photos.

      In addition to the above gulls there are at least a
      half dozen Western Gulls of various ages (mostly
      adult), probably a dozen Glaucous-winged Gulls (mostly
      1st-basic), several hybrid Western X Glaucous-winged
      Gulls (2nd-basic, 3rd-basic and adult) and many
      Thayer’s Gulls, all roaming the southern Clear Lake

      The ROSS'S GOOSE seen at Hidden Valley Lake on Sunday
      the 8th has not been seen since.

      interested in searching for these gulls, be forewarned
      that there are thousands of gulls at Clearlake with
      only a small proportion at any time roosting within
      easy viewing range on a few scattered docks.
      Furthermore, the presence of gulls on the docks is
      unpredictable due to frequent human disturbance. More
      gulls tend to loaf on the docks when it is raining,
      presumably due to a lower frequency of human
      disturbance. Most of the gulls are far out in the lake
      and many shuttle back and forth between the landfill
      south of Clearlake. I do see some individual gulls
      repeatedly, even on different docks, so relocating
      these gulls is certainly feasible (and I'll be trying
      every weekend). Visibility is best in the morning.
      Here are the best spots to study gulls from south to

      Clearlake Landfill: From the junction of Lakeshore
      Drive and Hwy 53 in Clearlake, drive south and turn
      left (following the sign) at the first road. Follow
      this road until it turns right and eventually ends at
      the landfill. The managers wouldn’t let me enter the
      landfill but the gulls can be viewed from a paved road
      on a hillside that veers left just before the landfill
      entrance. The views are distant, but I've picked out
      Western, Glaucous-winged and Thayer's. And it's closed
      on Sundays and holidays, when the gulls are absent.

      Red Bud Park: From the junction of Lakeshore Drive and
      Hwy 53 in Clearlake, drive north on Lakeshore Drive
      past the first stoplight and look for Kathie’s Inn on
      the left. Just beyond the inn, turn left and check out
      the obvious docks, which gulls often roost on before
      the fishermen spook them. A large flock is invariably
      on the water well beyond the docks. Also, drive
      through the park toward the southwest to Golf Rd. and
      turn right. After a few hundred yards a dock is
      visible on the right.

      Austin Park: Continue northward on Lakeshore Drive to
      an obvious beach on the left just before the junction
      of Olympic Drive. The long dock is the most consistent
      spot for gulls to roost and can be viewed either from
      the beach or a back alley directly behind the dock.
      From the gate in the back alley, walk toward the gas
      station and look across the fence at two more docks.

      Pirate’s Cove: Continue northward on Lakeshore Drive,
      checking out numerous docks (but with few if any
      gulls) along the way. The best gull roost is at three
      docks at 11021 Lakeshore Drive, 4.0 miles north of
      Clearlake Park Post Office and 2.3 miles north of the
      hairpin S-curve at junction of San Joaquin (turn left
      if driving northward). This is where the possible
      Kumlien’s Iceland Gull and other undocumented odd
      gulls were seen.

      Floyd Hayes
      Hidden Valley Lake, Lake Co., CA
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