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Fw: [cobirds] Ross's Gull update and account

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  • immac@rof.net
    West Slope content, Forrest Luke, & I all went to see this extreme rarity from the Arctic today. Tom Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry ... From: Glenn
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20 4:10 PM
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      West Slope content, Forrest Luke, & I all went to see this extreme rarity from the Arctic today.


      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      From: "Glenn Walbek" <gwalbek@...>
      Sender: cobirds@...
      Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 15:47:03 -0700
      To: COBIRDS<cobirds@...>
      ReplyTo: gwalbek@...
      Subject: [cobirds] Ross's Gull update and account

      The Ross's Gull continues to please the birders at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  He was there this morning after the fog lifted and was there when I left at 12:30 p.m..  With a bit of fog still in the air, the bird flew back into the southeast cove and rested reasonably close to shore for about 20 minutes, before beginning his M.O. of fluttering over the water picking up food items in the distant, center of the lake.  As of 3:00p.m., Steve Larson called and stated the bird was giving very nice looks from the west end of the dam.  I will post updates as I get them.
      Back to Yesterday, the 19th.  I had arranged to meet Joe Roller at CCSP to do some looning and gulling.  We were there a short time and had re-located the Pacific Loon, Red-throated Loon and several Common Loons.  We also saw the second cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull that was seen the day before.  Bob Rozinkski arrived and showed us a photo of a Snow Bunting he had taken only 30 minutes earlier, so Joe and I set off to find it.  Joey had gotten the word out so several birders had arrived to help and more were on the way.  We unsuccessfully scoured the shores on the east and south side, when Joe came upon a 'Little Gull'.  The bird was distant and the light was bad, but there was indeed a small buoyant gull with darker underwings flying along the dam.  Joe and I, along with Dave who I had met at the marina, scoped the gull for several minutes.  Joe commented that he thought the bird looked a bit large for Little Gull and I stated the shape of the bird, mainly the long-pointed wings, gave me some concern about our ID, but the dark underwing was about the best field mark we could safely discern at the time.  We contemplated the possibility of other species, primarily Black-headed Gull, but that was quickly dismissed as we consulted Joe's field guide.  So Joe left and Cole arrived.
      We went to the end of the Lake Loop point and continued to look at this bird.  The light was improving somewhat and we began thinking out loud.  Why are the bird's wings pointed?  Why can't I see the perfectly formed white edge that stretches from tertial tips to P10?  These are the thing I love about Little Gulls, but I wasn't seeing them.  Then Cole asked, "have you eliminated Ross's Gull?"  The answer was no.  He then pulled up the field guide app on his iPhone and went to Ross's Gull.  Things were beginning to make sense.  We studied the bird some more and called out field marks; wedge shaped tailed, uniform pale gray upper wing and the pink tinge.  Within a few minutes we were pretty confident we were looking at a Ross's Gull.  But the bird was still plenty far away and we wanted better looks.  At this point I contacted Joey and told him what I thought we were looking at.  He got the word out, along with Cole and I, as we headed towards the dam for hopefully a better look. 
      As we walked out on the dam from the east, it was apparent we were closer to the bird.  Close enough to tell for sure we were looking at a Ross's Gull.  Now I had to get ID-able photographs.  I hammered the thing to the tune of 634 shots, most of which were lousy.  Fortunately, Joe Roller had returned and commandeered a vessel for our use.  We were rewarded with some nice photos as we were obviously much closer to the bird.
      If you go to see this gem, bring a scope!  Also be prepared for many Bonaparte's Gulls, behaving much the same as the Ross's Gull.  The beautiful wedge-shaped tail can be seen each time he swoops to the water as he tends to fan it as he slows.  The under-wing is medium gray, not charcoal gray like Little Gull.  The wings are very long and pointed.  Look for the pink cast to his body in good light.  The dark smudge around his eyes make his eyes look large on a smallish head.  Leg color is very hard to discern from a distance, but photos have revealed they are dark orange.  I have posted a composite photo of the Ross's and a Little Gull for comparison.  If you haven't been to see this beauty, you must go! 
      Glenn Walbek
      Castle Rock, CO

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