The numbers of gulls (large and small species) in the Willamette Valley during winter are quite fluid, with lots of weather-related movement back and forth between the outer coast and inland valleys. In the absence of significant rain for a period of days Willamette Valley fields and pastures dry out and gulls dissipate. When strong wet weather systems batter the outer coast and fill the inland valleys with rain pools gulls move into the valley by the thousands. The most obvious example of this is the open country immediately surround the large landfill SW of McMinnville. There are days when finding even a small flock of large pink-footed gulls is a challenge and other times when 2000-2500 (mostly Glaucous-winged and Glaucous-winged X Western) gulls carpet the fields in the area.
In the southern Willamette Valley Ring-billed Gull is by an order of magnitude the most numerous field gull, with more modest numbers of large pink-footed gulls, Mew and some California Gulls mixed in. Unlike most other gulls, Ring-billeds seem to stick around in numbers even when fields and pastures start drying out. There numbers on the outer coast during winter are comparatively modest. Mew Gulls like wetter muddier fields and pastures. They can be found inland in modest numbers mixed in with both large otherwise pure flocks of Ring-billeds and also mixed in with the larger pink-footed gulls (Glaucous-winged, Herring, "Thayer's" Iceland and Western X Glaucous-winged hybrids). One thing to look for when you see flocks of Ring-billeds with Mews mixed together. If there is a wet trough or a puddle the Mews are usually in and immediately around the water while the Ring-billeds are more inclined to be on higher and drier ground. Mews often prevail as the most numerous gull in wet/semi-flooded coastal dairy pastures. For example, the Tillamook Bay CBC has recorded as many as 20,000 Mews in some years. They also like muddy estuary substrates like what is found in Tillamook Bay and the Idaho Flats section of Yaquina Bay at low tide.
From: <obol-bounce...> <obol-bounce...> on behalf of Alan Contreras <acontrer56...>
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2018 3:42 AM
Cc: <kloshewoods...>; obol
Subject: [obol] Re: Influxes
The gullwad west of Junction City has been mostly ringbills in recent weeks. Sometimes there are hundreds of Mews there, especially in late winter when the fields are really wet. Other times there are very few. It has been one of the most consistent places to look at gulls in Lane Co for some years now.
The Mew Gull flock has been a fixture of that neighborhood west of Jct City for awhile. I saw them at Thanksgiving 9 or 10 years ago, in the company of Black-bellief Plover, rather than larger gulls. I think that association has pertained at times this winter and well.
Very divided opinion on Varied Thrush just now, some observers remarking on high numbers, at least as many Oregon birders commenting on a dearth. Lars
On Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 1:33 PM Jerry Tangren <kloshewoods...><mailto:<kloshewoods...> wrote:
Varied thrush numbers are way up. Some are always expected, but the elevated numbers add to the pattern exhibited by rarer species.
Hypothesis: the warm blob in the northeastern Pacific Ocean contributed to elevated breeding success of birds in the taiga this summer.
Hi All, Alan Contreras and maybe others have commented on this winter being a bumper year for swamp sparrows. I’d like to add that it appears to be one for Harris sparrows as well, and probably cattle egrets. In the 90s it seemed we could count on seeing them in coastal areas each November. Another candidate is/was palm warbler. There were 5-6 individuals in Benton Co alone, plus the few other ones inland, and apparently quite a number on the coast. Coastal numbers may be normal, but with reports of larger flocks numbers seem high. Any others?
While looking for the indigestable egret I noticed a few hundred mew Gulls in a large Gull flock nearby. I was just not adventurous to count them. Caleb may not have mentioned that we had 100 Mews on the Dallas CBC, which I believe is an all time high. This may be an oversight of mine, but I am not used to seeing so many Mews in winter.