Monday, February 22, 2010

Rocky Point Gull Workshop

The first ever joint Arizona Field Ornithologists and Tucson Audubon Society gull workshop was held in Puerto PeƱasco, Sonora on February 20-21, 2010.  Fifteen participants from central and southeast Arizona converged on Rocky Point to sample from the diversity of this gull rich area and to brush up on their gull identification skills.  Chris Benesh and Dave Stejskal led the outing.  In total, ten species of gulls were seen, along with a few interesting hybrids.  Two additional species (Mew and Glaucous-winged gulls) were detected during scouting, but did not put in an appearance during the workshop.  Other interesting sightings included a first cycle California Gull with a band indicating it was banded as a chick last summer at Mono Lake, in eastern California (home of the second largest colony of California Gulls), and an amelanistic Yellow-footed Gull.  A list of gulls seen includes Bonaparte's, Ring-billed, Heermann's, California, Lesser Black-backed, Thayer's, American Herring, Western, Yellow-footed, and Glaucous gulls.  Hybrids included Western X Glaucous-winged and Am. Herring X Glaucous-winged.  

Some of the many elegant Heermann's Gulls that frequent Rocky Point.

Yellow-footed Gull one of the real highlights of the northern Sea of Cortez. 

This amelanistic Yellow-footed Gull stood out in the masses.  Looking all the world like a white-winged gull, its massive proportions helped indicate its real identity. 

Another white-winged gull in the crowd was this second cycle Glaucous Gull that put in a brief appearance.  

This first cycle Thayer's Gull was one of a few seen over the two days of birding.  

A first cycle Western Gull stands next to a first cycle Yellow-footed Gull.  At one time these two were considered the same species.  

This first cycle California Gull sports a band it received at Mono Lake, California this past summer. Mono Lake has the second largest colony of this species.  

Small numbers of these tern-like Bonaparte's Gulls were evident at the sewage ponds. 

A third cycle Olympic Gull (Western X Glaucous-winged) was present at the landfill.  

A first cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull that was present for two days at the sewage ponds.  

The first of two Mew Gulls found at the landfill during workshop scouting.  

The second Mew Gull that was briefly at the landfill during scouting. 

Group scanning through masses of gulls in the late afternoon.