Wednesday, May 27, 2015

No Laughing Matter: Franklin's Gull

     A Franklin's Gull has been reported at Plumb Beach over the last few days. This gull is a rare bird for these parts, so I thought I'd try my luck after my friend and fellow birder found it yesterday, soon after we parted ways.
     The Franklin's gull is incredibly similar to laughing gulls, and it's dizzying at times trying to find him in the crowd. Little differences helped to find him... he is a tad smaller than a laughing gull, his belly has a soft pink hue, his wing tips are white and lighter than the laughing gull, and his higher pitched call really helps in locating him.
     I took a lot of photos, as usual, I'll let them do the 'splaining...
The horseshoe crabs were having a very Hollywood roll in the surf coupling. The crabs are still doing their egg laying which makes for feasting if you are of the avian persuasion.
This laughing gull was doing its own version of kite surfing.
The wind was strong and so were the waves. For reproducing horseshoe crabs, the surf can be a place where you end up overturned. Don't worry-- I flipped her back over, but the struggle is real!
A juvenile herring gull dwarfs the dunlin (with the black bellies) and sanderling (with the reddish colored head).
A least tern surrenders to the strong winds.
Alright-- can you find the Franklin's gull in the crowd? I see him-- remember, whiter wing tips-- which is easier to see when he is turned to the side.
Here he is! A handsome little thing! See the white primary feather tips!
His belly has a very subtle pink hue-- see him peering at us on the right there?
Closest bird to us. I was shooting through gusts of wind and sand- so sorry for all the grain(s). This bird normally spends in summer in the middle of Canada and migrates up through the middle of the US.
Can do a little wing comparison here.


Can you identify him here? remember he is also a tad smaller than laughing gulls. 
Compare the Franklin's call to the laughing gull. His call made it easy to locate him when we lost him.

Withe the Belt parkway overpass behind him!

When you watch gulls for a long time, it's interesting to watch the drama that unfolds between them. They are great to photograph!

Another great size and wing tip comparison.
Not too shabby of an after work bird chase!