Franklin’s Gull at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on October 8, 2017

I made a stop at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee for a first stop checking the beach area this morning. The beach was quiet. I ran into Dave G there and I said I was heading to McKinley Beach, he said he was there earlier this morning and it was empty. Since I was at the lakefront I made the drive over and within a flock of about 25 Ring-billed Gulls I saw a gull with a light black head. I knew this was going to be something good and it was, a Franklin’s Gull, juvenile (1st cycle). Dave followed me over he also got few shots off before the gull took to the air and headed south for what appeared to be no apparent reason. The gull was just preening so it makes sense what the gull had in mind I think. It was a short lived burst of excitement in the birding world as we just don’t see Franklin’s along the lake very often. The highlight of the day with not much else to report along the north side of Milwaukee’s lakefront. It was a gorgeous day with full sun, mild temps and very little wind. Images were taken on October 8, 2017.

Franklin’s Gull

Binomial name: Larus pipixcan

Category: Gulls, Terns and Skimmers

Size: 14.5” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 10 oz

Stretching before the flight…

Some preening…

Franklin’s Gull, left – Ring-billed Gull, right

The back view..

The Bonaparte’s Gull in migration at Grant Park on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on May 1, 2017

I hit Grant Park this morning with hopes to see some shorebirds. There were no shorebirds present but the Bonaparte’s Gull numbers were very impressive way out on the water. Only one time did one land on the beach when I was there. For the most part they were either moving north, sometimes south, and sometimes they would land for resting and feeding. Literally 1,000’s and 1,000’s of them what a treat to see! It would have been nice to have a different lens for this type of photography to get a better picture of the mass of gulls there were as it went as far as I could see north and south on the lake. It was a pleasant morning for a few hours but rain is on it’s way again. Images were taken on May 1, 2017.

One on the beach was it…

Some gulls were flying, some feeding and some resting…

Note the line of gulls on the horizon went on for as far as you could see in both directions

2-Bonaparte’s Gulls, adult in breeding plumage, 1 – 1st winter, correct me if I’m wrong.

Slaty-backed Gull at Northridge Lakes in Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 13, 2017

I had been birding the lakefront in Milwaukee when I got a call from Mike W, thanks Mike. He stated Tom W had found a Slaty-backed Gull at Northridge Lakes. With a quick ride over there, and some birders having it in their scopes it put a spike in what looked like might be a quiet day birding. The bird stayed in one spot the whole time I was there of about 30 minutes. It stood and rested while I was there along with the preening. It raised its wings once and I capture a couple of shots of what is known as the ‘string of pearls’,  spots on the outer primaries. Other birds to note, it was said that there were 2 Glaucous Gulls, 1-adult, 1-immature and 4 Kumlien’s, 3-adults, 1-juvenile, I did not see all of them. A big thank you to Tom W for finding this nice bird and getting the word out for others to see. A mild day with temps around 40 with full sun, light breeze made for a pleasant morning out. Images were taken on February 13, 2017.

Slaty-backed Gull, with the wing up you can see the 'sting of pearls'

Slaty-backed Gull, with the wing up you can see the ‘string of pearls’ on the primaries

Slaty-backed Gull

Binomial name: Larus schistisagus

Category: Gulls, Tern. and Skimmers

Size: 25” long, 58” wing span

Weight: 3.0 lb

Note: An Asian gull that is considered a rare breeder on the west coast of Alaska and is a very rare visitor to North America.

Standing in the middle

Standing in the middle

The way it was...

The way it was…

Going down to rest

Going down to rest

Resting

Resting

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Doing a stretch

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Just another shot

Just another shot

Glaucous Gulls at Johnson Creek in Jefferson County Wisconsin on February 3, 2017

I have not been out to Johnson Creek in Jefferson County lately so I gave it a try mid morning. There were a lot of gulls over the dump but only a couple hundred loafed at the Kohl’s outlot south of I94. It was nice to see 2 Glaucous Gulls in the small group there. There was 1- 1st cycle and 1- adult present. They took flight a few times as there must have been something in the area that spooked them. A very cold day with some wind but the sun made it feel not too bad. Images were taken on February 3, 2017.

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull

Binomial name: Larus hyperboreus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 27” long, 60” wing span

Weight: 3.1 lb

Habitat: This large gulls breeding grounds are in the northern arctic. It spends its winters farther north than most gulls on coasts, lakes, urban areas, dumps and agricultural fields. Mostly breeds along shorelines of the seacoast, rivers and lakes, also refuse dumps. These gulls are usually not found inland.

Diet: It captures prey such as plovers, small ducks, ptarmigans, auks, birds, small mammals and invertebrates. It also scavenges dead fish, carrion, garbage and dead animal matter.

Nesting: The nest is a shallow bowl constructed of twigs, grasses, sedges, moss and sometimes feathers. The nest is located on cliff edges, grass slopes above cliffs, islands or ponds on the tundra. 3 eggs are usually laid brown in color with dark brown spots.

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle in the middle, it just landed

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle loafing

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle loafing

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult loafing

Glaucous Gull, adult loafing

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, adult

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 27, 2016

I started birding the lakefront in Milwaukee mid morning and my first stop moving south was the Petroleum Pier. Lots of ducks but nothing odd. I ran into Jym M there and he said he just saw a Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at South Shore Yacht Club. After hitting a few more places I stopped at the SSYC and the Kumlien’s Iceland was still present but out a ways by itself. After awhile it came in closer and gave some nice views. After a dog walker flushed everything away I left. Other birds to note there, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shoveler, Common Goldeneyes and many Greater Scaup. This is the 3rd year in a row a Kumlien’s Iceland Gull has been at the club in winter. A beautiful bird! I walked from McKinley Marina to Lakeshore State Park and it was 1,000 plus ducks that were mainly Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneyes. Images were taken on December 27, 2016.

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Kumlien’s Iceland Gull

Binomial name: Larus glaucoides

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 22” long, 54” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lb

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Eating mussels

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Eating mussels

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Eating mussels

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Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at South Shore Yacht Club 2015-2016 winter images link:

http://www.windowtowildlife.com/kumliens-iceland-gull-at-the-shore-yacht-club-in-milwaukee-wisconsin-on-december-15-2015/

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at South Shore Yacht Club 2014-2015 winter images link:

http://www.windowtowildlife.com/kumliens-iceland-gull-great-black-backed-gulls-south-shore-yacht-club-milwaukee-wisconsin-february-8-2015/

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Ring-necked Duck, male

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler – female

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male

Black-legged Kittiwake at the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay Wisconsin on December 12, 2016

I made the run up to Green Bay early morning to see if the juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake was still present. It was at light broke in the bay area. The bird circled around the east side of the river opening near the old pier walk structure. Typically what I noticed this morning was after a few circles around, it sat out in the water farther out by itself. It did that for 15-20 minutes then did some more hunting and feeding around the structure. For almost an hour it was no where to be seen. As it got towards 10 am I watched it fly way out and landed in with a couple hundred Ring-billed Gulls on a sheet of ice. That is  probably where it was earlier when it was not around as I thought I saw it a few feet off the ice with those gulls but it was very far out confirm. A fun but cold morning, stiff wind made it feel like January. The sun shinned for only for a minute or two. Very cool life bird that I can finally add to my life list. The normal range for this bird is breeding in the arctic on the coasts and winters on the eastern and western US coasts. A big thank you to Willson Gaul for finding this exciting bird and getting the word out to the birding community. Images were taken on December 12, 2016.

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Black-legged Kittiwake

Binomial name: Rissa tridactyla

Category: Gulls, Tern, and Skimmers

Size: 17” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 14 oz

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Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

A quick dip in the water

A quick dip in the water

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Takeoff

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Franklin’s Gulls at North Point in Sheboygan Wisconsin on May 31, 2016

I decided to make a run up to North Point in Sheboygan this morning. At least 7 Franklin’s Gulls were the highlight. It was constant birds coming and going there which always makes it exciting as to what might show up there. Franklin’s Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Ring-billed along with some Common Terns were the main species present. It was very cold when I got there and once the sun finally showed it made things just better. Images were taken on May 31, 2016.

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Franklin’s Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Binomial name: Larus pipixcan

Category: Gulls, Terns and Skimmers

Size: 14.5” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 10 oz

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gulls

Franklin’s Gulls

5 Franklin's Gulls

5 Franklin’s Gulls

Franklin's Gulls

Franklin’s Gulls

Franklin's Gull with fish and Bonaparte's Gull front

Franklin’s Gull with fish and Bonaparte’s Gull front

Franklin's Gull finding food

Franklin’s Gull finding food

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull with fish

Franklin’s Gull with fish

Franklin's Gull with Ring-billed Gull, size comparison image

Franklin’s Gull with Ring-billed Gull, size comparison image

Franklin's Gulls

Franklin’s Gulls

Franklin's Gulls, 3 preening

Franklin’s Gulls, 3 preening

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull preening

Franklin’s Gull preening

Franklin's Gull eating bugs off a stick

Franklin’s Gull eating bugs off a stick

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

 

White-winged Tern at the Manitowoc Impoundment in Manitowoc Wisconsin on May 21, 2016

I saw the report of the rare White-winged Tern at the Manitowoc Impoundment in the later afternoon. I had to make the run and try to see the extremely rare bird for the state. It was said today that this is the 2nd state record for this bird in Wisconsin and the previous record goes back to 1873. The normal range for this bird is throughout Eurasia. The White-winged Gull, was formally known as White-winged Black Tern. How nice to have this visitor stop in Wisconsin. When I arrived I just looked for the crowd out on a pier, that was the place I had to go to. The bird was present when I arrived and took to flight a few times. The Bonaparte’s Gulls present did not seem to like having it around. Lots of Terns and Gulls were present, with numbers well into the 100’s maybe a 1,000. A couple of Little Gulls were also present. Thanks to Charles S and Jeff H for finding this bird, id-ing the bird, and Tom S for getting the word out to others. It just might be a once in a life time to see this bird here in Wisconsin. It was a fun time with birding friends and meeting some new on a beautiful late May evening. These are distant images but the bird was always a long ways off. Images were taken on May 21, 2016.

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

Binomial name: Chlidonias leucopterus

Category: Gulls, Tern, and Skimmers

Size: 9.5” long, 23” wing span

Weight: 2.2 oz

Bonaparte's Gull with the White-winged Tern

Bonaparte’s Gull with the White-winged Tern, in front

White-winged Tern, in the middle with Caspian Terns

White-winged Tern, in the middle with Caspian Terns

Bonaparte's Gulls with the White-winged Tern (in front)

Bonaparte’s Gulls with the White-winged Tern, in front

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

Bonaparte's Gull with the White-winged Tern, in front

Bonaparte’s Gull with the White-winged Tern, in front

White-winged Tern with a Bonaparte's Gull

White-winged Tern with a Bonaparte’s Gull

White-winged Tern on the shore

White-winged Tern on the shore

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White-winged Tern, in the middle just after takeoff from the shore

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Little Gull

Little Gull

Little Gull

Little Gull

Caspian Terns and Bonaparte’s Gulls at Grant Park in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on April 14, 2016

One of my birding stops today was Grant Park in Milwaukee County. One of the highlights was a steady stream of Bonaparte’s Gulls heading south. Another highlight was a small flock of Caspian Terns on the beach. The first ones of the year are always so cool to see. The Caspian Terns were hanging out with Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of Bonaparte’s Gulls on the beach until some beach folks came along and then the terns flew south. Also flying by were a couple good size flocks of first of the year Double-crested Cormorants. A fun day out with lots of new birds for the year! Images were taken on April 14, 2016.

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Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern, I see a band on this one…..I’ll have to look into that.

Caspian Terns

Caspian Terns

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

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Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern hanging out with Ring-billed Gulls and Bonaparte's Gulls

Caspian Terns hanging out with Ring-billed Gulls and a Bonaparte’s Gull

Caspian Terns

Caspian Terns

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull, not sure what this was, was it picking off a bug?

Bonaparte’s Gull, not sure what this was, was it picking off a bug?

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Bonaparte's Gull incoming

Bonaparte’s Gulls all heading south today!

Bonaparte's Gull hanging out in the water

Bonaparte’s Gull hanging out in the water

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Double-crested Cormorants

Double-crested Cormorants

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

 

Glaucous Gull Juvenile and other gulls on Milwaukee’s Lakefront in Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 24, 2016

I birded the Milwaukee Lakefront this morning and the highlight was gulls. 1 Gluacous Gull juvenile at Bradford Beach. Other gulls were a Glaucous Gull adult and 2 Great Black-blacked Gulls adults near the petroleum pier on broken ice or on the pier itself. It was a cloudy day with stiff winds making it feel like a cold January day. Images were taken on February 24, 2016.

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Glaucous Gull juvenile at Bradford Beach

Glaucous Gull

Binomial name: Larus hyperboreus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 27” long, 60” wing span

Weight: 3.1 lb

Habitat: This large gulls breeding grounds are in the northern arctic. It spends its winters farther north than most gulls on coasts, lakes, urban areas, dumps and agricultural fields. Mostly breeds along shorelines of the seacoast, rivers and lakes, also refuse dumps. These gulls are usually not found inland.

Diet: It captures prey such as plovers, small ducks, ptarmigans, auks, birds, small mammals and invertebrates. It also scavenges dead fish, carrion, garbage and dead animal matter.

Nesting: The nest is a shallow bowl constructed of twigs, grasses, sedges, moss and sometimes feathers. The nest is located on cliff edges, grass slopes above cliffs, islands or ponds on the tundra. 3 eggs are usually laid brown in color with dark brown spots.

Glaucous Gull adult near the Petroleum Pier

Glaucous Gull adult near the Petroleum Pier

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Glaucous Gull juvenile, left and Herring Gull right

Glaucous Gull Juvenile with Herring Gull right

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Trying to keep its balance with the high winds!

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Trying to keep its balance with the high winds!

Glaucous Gull adult at Bradford Beach the next day 2/26/2016

Glaucous Gull adult at Bradford Beach 2/26/2016

Glaucous Gull adult at Bradford Beach the next day 2/26/2016

Glaucous Gull adult at Bradford Beach on 2/26/2016

Great Black-backed Gull 2nd Cycle at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on January 16, 2016

The highlight this morning while birding some of Milwaukee’s lakefront was a Great Black-backed Gull 2nd cycle. A Great Black-backed adult was also in the area but remained far off shore just hanging out by itself. Images were taken on January 16, 2016 on a very cold, sunny morning with a steady breeze.

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Hanging out with a Ring-billed left

Hanging out with a Herring Gull left

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Landing gear coming down!

Landing gear coming down!

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Herring Gull right

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Ring-billed Gulls

Ring-billed Gulls

Slaty-backed Gull at the Johnson Creek Landfill in Jefferson County Wisconsin on January 7, 2016

I went out this morning to the Johnson Creek Landfill in hopes to see the Slaty-backed Gull that was reported by Tom W yesterday, nice find Tom and thanks for getting the word out! The exact location is a frozen pond on Waldmann Lane just west of the landfill. I had not been out there for about 3 weeks so I was due. I arrived around 9 am and looked the gulls over well on the ice. About an hour later Ted K showed up and we continued to look through all the gulls coming and going. After a while I spotted what I thought was the Slaty-backed Gull and we looked it over well, that it was. After about 30 minutes it took to the air and towards the landfill area. The images are rough, distant shots, this bird was at least 3/4 of the way across to frozen pond. Images show the “string of pearls” on the wings. Not a life bird as I got the one that was here on December 22, 2012. I fun couple of hours on a gloomy day. Other gulls to note that were present (3) Lesser Black-backed Gull and (2) Glaucous Gulls. Images were taken on January 7, 2016.

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Slaty-backed Gull

Binomial name: Larus schistisagus

Category: Gulls, Tern. and Skimmers

Size: 25” long, 58” wing span

Weight: 3.0 lb

Note: An Asian gull that is considered a rare breeder on the west coast of Alaska and is a very rare visitor to North America.

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Gyrfalcon in Superior Wisconsin and the Ivory Gull in Duluth Minnesota on January 2, 2016

I made the run up to Superior Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota along with Jenny, Rita and John. We arrived a few minutes before sun up. The 2 target birds for us for the day were the rare Gyrfalcon (currently in WI) and the very rare visiting Ivory Gull (currently in MN). It was an exciting day watching both species in action. The Gyrfalcon chased and Common Raven, then the Common Raven appeared to chase the Gyrfalcon. What a show it was! The Ivory Gull was there at sun up with many spectators, ate and on occasion, flew at some high speeds with Herring Gulls. Life birds for all of us on a cold morning and full sun, with low winds. A fun trip for the 4 of us and with friends and birders from around the state. Images were taken on January 2, 2016.

Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven?

Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven, images taken at about 1/4 mile from birds

Gyrfalcon

Binomial name: Falco rusticolus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 22” long, 47” wing span

Weight: 3.1 lb

Notes: Breeds in the Arctic, wintering in northern Canada south to the northern US.

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Binomial name: Pagophila eburnea

Category: Gulls

Size: 17” long, 37” wing span

Weight: 1.4 lb

Notes: Typically spends it’s life in the high Arctic. The Ivory Gull nests are sometimes eaten by caribou.

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Common Raven chasing the Gyrfalcon

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Common Raven chasing the Gyrfalcon

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Gyrfalcon, the chase ends!

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Gyrfalcon cruising near a build roof top from a 1/4 mile away

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Gyrfalcon

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull at the Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 15, 2015

I birded some of the lakefront mid morning today in Milwaukee. My last stop was going to be South Shore Yacht Club. Only a few blocks away from there, I got a text from Jen A telling me of a beautiful Kumlein’s Iceland Gull was present on the docks. Thanks Jen! This gull may have 1st been found by John M early morning, nice find John! I stopped and we both got some nice views of this bird flying and watched it hanging out with some Ring-billed Gulls. I think this gull would be considered a 2nd winter gull.  Also present was a Peregrine Falcon, but it was out far on a dock and only gave back views. I left for awhile and checked out the Petroleum Pier which had pretty much the same ducks that I have been seeing for the last 2 weeks. Lakeshore State Park still had the female Long-tailed Duck along with the ducks that it had been hanging with. Not much else to report. A fun hour or so out, always a treat to see a different gull on the lakefront! Images were taken on December 15, 2015.

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Kumlien’s Iceland Gull

Binomial name: Larus glaucoides

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 22” long, 54” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lb

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Kumlien's Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

Kumlien's Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

Kumlien's Iceland Gullhanging out with Ring-billed Gulls, 6th from the left

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull hanging out with Ring-billed Gulls, 6th from the left

Kumlien's Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gulls, 3 right

Kumlien’s Iceland Gull left, Ring-billed Gulls, 5 right

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Take-off!

Take-off!

Take-off!

Take-off!

Great Black-backed Gulls at Bradford Beach on December 4, 2015

One of the birding moments today was watching a couple of adult Great Black-backed Gulls at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee. One of the birds was shy and only came in once, and a walker flushed it. The other had only one thing on it’s mind, eating, and that was part of a dead fish at waters edge. A couple of days ago, I could not even get on the beach, 3 Great Black-backed Gulls were present that day and when I set foot on the beach they headed out on to the water. Today, this food was a factor, I was within 100 feet of many gulls as were walkers and the one Great Black-backed Gull with in them never moved, it worked on the fish, but it did keep an eye on me the whole time too. Had a little confrontation with a couple of Herring Gulls but overall not much trouble. The Herring and Ring-billed Gulls that were around  pretty much kept their distance and respected this gulls space. I noticed this gull took the dead fish and dragged it into the water numerous times and out, it appeared it was washing the dead fish as it ate it. One time it looked like it was going to cover the dead fish up with bills full of algae but that process did not go far. At the end, the Great Black-backed Gull had appeared to have filled up and took to the air, then sitting far out on the lake bathing. A couple of Herring Gulls took over the piece of fish. The only other highlight today was seeing 2 Hermit Thrushes at Grant Park in Milwaukee below a bluff. Other than that a slow day birding where I was, few ducks out on the lake for this time of year. Beautiful day out with mild temps and sun, low winds. Images were taken on December 4, 2015.

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Great Black-backed Gull

Binomial name: Larus marinus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Description: The largest member of the gull family.  White feathers with grayish-black backs and wings.  The wings have white wingtips.  Pink legs, strong yellow or pinkish-yellow bill.

Size: 25” – 31” long, 4’ 10” – 5’ 7” wingspan

Weight: 1.7 lbs. – 5.1 lbs.

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Getting the dead fish back out of the water

The Great Black-backed Gull retrieves the dead fish it just put in the water, evidently for washing

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A Herring Gull watching, would love to get some of that fish!

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A Herring Gull watching, would love to get some of that fish!

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Taking a drink

Taking a drink

Taking a drink

Taking a drink

Taking a drink

Taking a drink

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Dragging it back out of the water after possible washing

Got flushed by a jogger but is coming back in

Got flushed by a jogger but is coming back in

Not wasting any time getting back to that fish!

Not wasting any time getting back to that fish with a Herring Gull on the left.

A little confrontation

A little confrontation

A little confrontation

A little confrontation

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A little confrontation

A little confrontation

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Herring Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

Herring Gull left, Ring-billed Gull right

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Gull is full, time to get out on the lake!

Gull is full, time to get out on the lake!

Gull is full, time to get out on the lake!

Gull is full, time to get out on the lake!

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Wings down!

Wings down!

Great Black-backed Gulls at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November 28, 2015

I hit Milwaukee’s lakefront early this morning and it was pretty quiet. The only highlight were 3 Great Black-backed Gulls, adults nonbreeding at Bradford Beach. They came and went but at one time 3 were on the beach within ~20 feet of each other. They mostly hung out in the water with walkers on the beach. Great Black-backed Gulls have always been skittish with me, you just will not be on the beach with them. Step a foot on the beach and they are gone! There was a little harassing from Herring Gulls but that was limited. Bruce showed up, Jym showed up later and he just had 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls at the marina along with a Thayer’s Gull. We thought we had a Lesser Black-backed Gull early on but could not confirm it. Jen and John showed up too and we all watch the Great Black-backed Gulls while they hung around for the most part out in the lake. There was a stiff wind out of the north and it made for a very cold morning, but it was a fun time out birding with friends! Weather like this for almost the 1st of December, we will take it. Images were taken on November 28, 2015.

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Great Black-backed Gull

Binomial name: Larus marinus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Description: The largest member of the gull family.  White feathers with grayish-black backs and wings.  The wings have white wingtips.  Pink legs, strong yellow or pinkish-yellow bill.

Size: 25” – 31” long, 4’ 10” – 5’ 7” wingspan

Weight: 1.7 lbs. – 5.1 lbs.

Habitat: Rocky and sandy coastal shorelines, ponds, lakes, and marshes

Diet: 50% or more of their diet is often garbage or human refuse.  They also eat fish, insects, crabs, smaller birds, chick eggs, and land animals such as rats.

Nesting: Both parents build several nests on or near stacks of rocks or fallen logs. The female chooses the best one, and it is lined with grass, seaweed, and other vegetation or garbage such as rope and pieces of plastic.  The female will lay a clutch of 3 eggs and both parents incubate them for about 28 days.  Both parents raise the hatchlings, take turns finding food.  The breeding pair will reuse the same nesting site year after year.

Notes: Great Black-backed Gull feathers were used in clothing while feathers were fashionable in the late 1800’s.  Once the trend ended, populations began to increase.  This trend continues with the increase in refuse sites across North America and Europe.

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3 Great Black-backed Gull on the beach!

Distant shot of 3 Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach!

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They all want some of the food, with a Herring Gull and Ring-billed Gulls

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They all want some of the food, with a Herring Gull and Ring-billed Gulls

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With a Herring Gull and Ring-billed Gulls

Under the wing

Under the wing

Back view

Back view

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Just took a drink!

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Franklin’s Gull at North Point in Sheboygan Wisconsin on November 12, 2015

I decided on the way into Milwaukee early morning being still dark with a light mist I would change plans and try for the Black-headed Gull that was reported yesterday by Daryl T in Sheboygan. When I arrived, it was just light. I stopped on the road near North Point and noticed a different gull near the waters edge. It was a Franklin’s Gull in nonbreeding plumage. A life bird for me that has avoided me well for the last few years. I have chased many reports the last couple of years, finally! The images are crude as it was just light, I shot from my parked car with the window down as a dog walker was a few feet away from the Franklin’s and moving towards it. After the bird flushed from the dog walker it flew just off shore for a minute and that was the end of that bird. I hung around for a couple of hours just in case it returned or the Black-headed Gull showed, neither happened. I stopped at Port Washington and a Great Black-backed Gull stood way out near the end of a dock. After I checked the area for other species south of that, returned, it appeared to be sleeping sound in the same place. I checked the Milwaukee Lakefront on the way back as I saw Steve L’s post of the Franklin’s Gulls moving south on the lake. I saw a flock of about 15 at the Lake Express Ferry, they were heading south. When I first saw the flock flying, it was quiet obvious it was a species I had not seen before as the way the flock moved.  I also noticed a flock of about 20 Snow Buntings on the lakefront. A fun day out, weather was really not all that bad, it was not cold. Images were taken on November 12, 2015.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Binomial name: Larus pipixcan

Category: Gulls, Terns and Skimmers

Size: 14.5” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 10 oz

Franklin's Gull with 2 Ring-billed Gull and Herring Gull

Franklin’s Gull with 3 Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gull

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull with a Ring-billed Gull

Franklin’s Gull with a preening Ring-billed Gull

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull with a Ring-billed Gull being flushed

Franklin’s Gull with a Ring-billed Gull being flushed

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Great Black-backed Gull looking around at the Port Washington Marina

Great Black-backed Gull looking around at the Port Washington Marina

Great Black-backed Gull sound asleep at the Port Washington Marina

Great Black-backed Gull sound asleep at the Port Washington Marina

Partial flock of Franklin's Gulls high up and moving south over the Lake Express Ferry Milwaukee WI 11/12/15

Partial flock of Franklin’s Gulls high up and moving south over the Lake Express Ferry Milwaukee WI 11/12/15

Bonaparte’s Gull at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on October 1, 2015

Birding Lakeshore State Park this morning produced an adult Bonaparte’s Gull, nonbreeding plumage. It was hanging out with about 20 Ring-billed Gulls. All the gulls were flushed with a fire department group coming in for some underwater diving practice. The Bonaparte’s Gull did not return to the area after it headed out over the water. I also had a distant views of 4 Horned Lark but a jogger unknowingly flush the bird and they headed up high and south. Plentiful were Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows and Double-crested Cormorants. Partly cloudy, stiff winds and cold temps made for winter coat weather on the lakefront. Images were taken on October 1, 2015.

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Bonaparte’s Gull, adult nonbreeding plumage

Bonaparte’s Gull

Binomial name: Larus philadelphia

Category: Gulls, Tern, and Skimmers

Size: 13.5” long, 33” wing span

Weight: 7.0 oz

Bonaparte's Gull with Ring-billed Gulls

Bonaparte’s Gull with Ring-billed Gulls

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull preening

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull with Ring-billed Gulls

Bonaparte’s Gull with Ring-billed Gulls

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Headed over the water, Bonaparte's Gull

Headed over the water, Bonaparte’s Gull

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For Reference Only

Reference only - Bonaparte's Gull in breeding plumage. Image taken at North Point Sheboygan Wisconsin on June 17, 2013

Bonaparte’s Gull in breeding plumage. Image taken at North Point Sheboygan Wisconsin on June 17, 2013

Forster’s Tern at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on September 28, 2015

I did some birding on the Milwaukee lakefront early this morning and some of the places hit were the Magic Hedge, Bradford and McKinley Beaches, Veterans and Lakeshore State Park, for the most part it was very slow. Yellow-rumped Warblers  were at most locations. The highlight was a Forster’s Tern, juvenile at Bradford Beach on my 3rd stop there this morning.  This little bird among many larger Ring-billed Gulls was present at waters edge. Birds change on the beach often with many walkers of all sorts. It moved around the beach and out of sight for periods of time too. It dived times for food and did catch some fish and often was harassed by Ring-billed Gulls on and off the beach. I saw many chases far out over the water. Sometimes the Ring-billed Gulls let it rest too. It was overcast with mild temps, light winds from the east while I was there this morning. Images were taken on September 28, 2015.

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Forster’s Tern

Binomial name: Sterna forsteri

Category: Gulls Tern, and Skimmers

Size: 13” long, 31” wing span

Weight: 6.0 oz

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Ring-billed Gull harassing

Ring-billed Gull harassing

Ring-billed Gull harassing

Ring-billed Gull harassing

Ring-billed Gull harassing

Ring-billed Gull harassing

Size comparison image with Ring-billed Gull left, Forster's Tern right

Size comparison image with Ring-billed Gull left, Forster’s Tern right

Ring-billed Gull chasing the Forster's Tern

Ring-billed Gull chasing the Forster’s Tern with fish

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Forster’s Tern with fish

Ring-billed Gull chasing the Forster's Tern

Ring-billed Gull chasing the Forster’s Tern

Forster's Tern making a dive for a fish

Forster’s Tern making a dive for a fish

Forster's Tern making a dive for a fish

Forster’s Tern making a dive for a fish

A ring-billed Gull right there after the Forster's Tern tries for food

A Ring-billed Gull right there after the Forster’s Tern tries for a fish

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Before the dive for a fish

Before the dive for a fish

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Kumlien’s Iceland Gull and Great Black-backed Gulls at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 8, 2015

I made a run down to South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee late morning. I had just saw the report by Jennifer A of the Kumlien’s Iceland Gull, 2nd cycle. This bird has been around the area but I had missed previous tries. I was down there yesterday and it was still froze up and almost bird less.  Today it was open water south of the club and very birdie. Along with the Kumlien’s Iceland were two Great Black-backed Gulls, one adult and one 1st winter and 2 Glaucous Gulls. Thanks to Jennifer for the report. Images were taken on February 8, 2015.

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Kumlien’s Iceland Gull

Binomial name: Larus glaucoides

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 22” long, 54” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lb

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Great Black-backed Gulls

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

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Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, adult

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

Great Black-backed Gull, 1st winter

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2 Glaucous Gulls