Date: 2/5/18 7:55 am From: J. Barker & J. Morris <sepdxhbs...> Subject: [obol] dark-headed gull in Portland
My husband Joseph and I are new to the world of gulls (we've only been birding at all for about six months). Sunday morning we were headed up to Vanport Wetlands in Portland but took a quick detour to East Delta Park when we got off I-5, because we saw an athletic field full of 300+ gulls and wanted to test our gull ID skills. Most of the birds were GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS and MEW GULLS, with some WESTERN GULLS. We also saw a very intriguing gull that we hope someone on OBOL might have ideas about.
We were standing in the parking lot adjacent to a soccer field and a large flock of gulls flew by--among the usual suspects there was a single, smaller-sized gull with an unmistakably black head. We were unable to get a photo, unfortunately--we tried to follow the black-headed gull with our binoculars, but the group it was in flew away from the area.
We know that a black-headed gull would be unusual in Portland, especially at this time of year, so we asked about it on the North American Gulls Facebook group. We were told that Franklin's Gulls still have a significant amount of black on their heads in winter, but they'd be rare in Portland, especially in winter (although there have been winter records in Seattle the psst couple of years). Another suggestion was a Bonaparte's Gull with a very aggressive molt cycle, but they're also uncommon to the area in winter and wouldn't typically be found in a field. What do our fellow OBOLers think?
If anyone wants to try to relocate and identify the species of this gull, we saw it between 7:30 & 8:00 AM in the area around the parking lot next to the soccer field at East Delta Park (we took I-5 exit 306B to get there).