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  SLATY-BACKED GULL  October 18, 2002
 

 Ernie, the SLATY-BACKED GULL flew into Higgs Memorial
Beach about 2:15pm, Oct. 18, 2002.
After my 410 mile, 8+hour drive from south St. Pete, I was very 
happy to see his arrival, after searching the beach for an hour,
admiring the LAUGHING GULLS, ROYAL and SANDWICH TERN, and ROCK
DOVES, which were the common avian beach residents.
He is big, and dark gray mantled. When he first flew in, he was
"skittish", and flew to one of the light poles on the White Street
Fishing Pier, but as I walked closer to it,he flew back to the
middle of the beach, to the right of the restrooms, as one faces
the water.
My best views, of his white head, wearing a silvery-gray-tan,
fine- lined "stole" on his neck; dirty-orange legs; a long
light-colored beak that has an irregular black ring sub terminal
to the ivory colored tip--was from the raised (about 8 steps)
pavilion, to the right of the public rest rooms.
The locals, who live in the area, who have some things in common
with Doc and the boys, of John Steinbeck fame, inform me of the
following:
1.He must have come here on a boat, as he could not have flown all
the way from Asia.
2. When he was first observed, about mid September, he was very
different than the other gulls, and Ray-Ray, the spokesman  for
the locals, knew something was up.
3. He is very aggressive.  When they sometimes feed the gulls, if
he does not get some of the food, he will grab another gull that
did, forcing him to give up his catch.
So Ernie is still part of the crowd on Clarence S. Higgs Memorial
Beach, Key West, FL., as of 2:15 pm, 2002.
DIRECTIONS:
Upon  crossing the channel from Stock Island, onto Key West (the
last one), , you are at a "T", which is Roosevelt Avenue.  Turn
Left (south). and drive about 1/2 mile to the first light, and
turn Right onto Flagler Av.
Go about 2 1/4 miles to White Street, and turn Left (south), and
drive to the end, about four blocks, to the base of the White
Street Fishing Pier, which has an Aid Victims Memorial.  This is
the east end of the beach.  Turn right, and yesterday there was
very ample free parking in the lot by the park, past Historic West
Martello Tower (an old brick, fort like structure), and the
restaurant.
Happy Birding!    Jim Swarr,   St. Petersburg Audubon


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