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FLORIDABIRDS-L  October 2001

FLORIDABIRDS-L October 2001

Subject:

Thayer's gull update

From:

David Simpson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

David Simpson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 26 Oct 2001 13:12:15 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (35 lines)

Has anyone seen (or not seen) the Thayer's gull today?  Details please.  Tomorrow will be my first chance to chase it.

Please send any responses to the list(s) as I will not be near my Email for the rest of the day.


David Simpson
[log in to unmask]
Sebastian, FL

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lyn Atherton 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 11:45 PM
  Subject: THAYER'S GULL, adult Elegant Tern at Ft. De Soto, 10/24/01


  At approximately 6:45 p.m, Irene Hernandez and I found a first basic-plumaged Thayer's Gull standing on the beach at the east end of the wall that goes from the Gulf Pier back towards the Bay Pier.  This is the same area that the adult Elegant Tern and probable Elegant x Sandwich hybrid have been found at various times.  We had gone to this area in search of the adult Elegant Tern that Jill Gaetzi and I had found at the North Beach tip earlier in the day.  Not finding the tern at the north end, Irene and I decided to check the Gulf Pier area to see if the tern might be in that area feeding.  We decided to walk around the wall to check for gulls and terns that might be standing on the shore along the wall.  On our walk around the wall, we first noticed a first basic-plumaged Lesser Black-backed Gull that I had photographed two weeks prior at the north end.  It was feeding on a dead fish--a result of the red tide in the area.  (There are numerous dead fish along the shoreline at the park, especially along the Egmont Channel.)  After discussing differences in the Lesser Black-backed and a nearby first basic-plumaged Herring Gull, I continued down to the end of the wall where there were some gulls and terns standing alongside resting Pelicans. 
   Within about 20 feet of the end of the wall, I noticed what appeared to be a very pale-mantled, first basic-plumaged gull standing alone. When I looked through my binoculars at the gull, I was shocked when I realized it was a Thayer's Gull, as the earliest verifiable record for the state was one I found and photographed at Toytown Landfill, Pinellas County (closed for about 20 years) on 12/29/81. (The date of  "29 Oct 1981" in Stevenson and Anderson is incorrect.)  The Thayer's we found today was in very fresh--so very striking--plumage.  The wing coverts were very distinctly "checkered," contrasting with the body feathers which were a relatively uniform darkish brown. (This bird is at the dark end of the Thayer's color range.)  There was a noticeable smudge around the eye, even though the overall head color was rather dark like the rest of the body.  The tertials were heavily patterned with whitish, similar to those shown by the Thayer's (top photo) on p. 332 in Grant's Gulls, a Guide to Identification.  The folded primaries appeared dark brown, each edged with whitish, and the tail feathers were noticeably paler than the folded primaries. Each of the tail feathers had a pale tip similar to those in the flight shot (top photo) on p. 333 of Grant.  The paler inner webs of the outer primaries were visible in flight, and the overall appearance of the primaries and secondaries was much like those shown in the latter photo.  Several times the Thayer's flew out over the water and flew back onto the beach to feed on dead fish allowing us great looks at the underwings which were typical of "white-winged" gulls--with pale undersides to the flight feathers. The Thayer's also raised its wings several times when confronted by the slightly larger Herring, revealing the undersides of the wings plus the upper surface of the tail and the upper tail coverts. 

  Despite having to run across a large field to get to my car which held my camera, and despite using a camera that had no film in it for the first 15 shots, I finally calmed down enough to shoot an entire roll of film (36 exposures) on the Thayer's.  I should get the developed photos back late tomorrow afternoon, so I'll either put a few definitive ones on my Web site or post them in a message to Birdbrains tomorrow night. And, of course, I'll be out at the park tomorrow to see if the gull is still in the area. 

  Lyn 
  -- 
  Lyn Atherton 
  Tierra Verde, FL 
  [log in to unmask] 
  url: http://home.earthlink.net/~bonniedabird/Home.htm 
    

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