Date: 11/14/17 6:57 am
From: 'Simbeck, Damien J' <djsimbeck...> [albirds] <albirds-noreply...>
Subject: [ALBIRDS] Wheeler Dam gulls, Pomarine Jaeger
I stopped by Wheeler Dam this morning on my way to work to look for the recently discovered Little Gull. Gull numbers have definitely increased since my last visit (post-Irma; I've been working too much lately). I only had to watch the swarm of Bonaparte's a few minutes before I picked up the smaller, dark under-winged Little Gull. It always amazes me how much they can stand out in the crowd, despite their size. I continued to scan for several minutes, and before I was done, I had tallied 7 species of gulls. Bonaparte's were definitely top bird, with at least 1000 birds present. Next was Ring-billed with about 500 birds, then Herring with 18 (though most were sitting on the water down-river and difficult to see clearly (there may have been more). The other four included the Little, a juvenile Laughing, a first winter Franklin's and two Lesser Black-backed (adult and first winter). Near the end of my stay, a fairly large, dark bird came flying down the river from the dam. It was big, and bulky, and flying with an attitude. The flight pattern, and presence of prominent white patches at the base of the primaries made the jaeger call easy. Size (definitely larger than the Ring-billeds), barrel-chested look and strong flight leads me to say Pomarine. It never chased any gull, but did harass a Great Blue Heron that was perched on a stump in the river. It went after the heron during three different passes, but the heron never moved. Also interesting were three Cattle Egrets, sitting on the bushes on the island below the dam. It's getting very late for them.

Damien Simbeck
Killen, AL

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