Friday, February 24, 2017 Glaucous Gulls, and American Wigeon

Seward, Alaska

The new hotspot along the waterfront at the base of Madison Street was even hotter today. I’m glad I stopped to check as I immediately spotted two large, very white gulls floating quietly among the other gulls. GLAUCOUS GULLS! They mostly just watched the feeding frenzy as other birds dove on herring swimming close to shore.

A few more breeding plumage BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES mixed in with the MEW and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS. The other gulls mercilessly and noisily chased any successful gull that did not immediately devour its prize. It sure seemed like a lot of wasted energy!

It was fun to watch, and wonder if any of these other gulls might be unusual as well. There are so many different age groups, molts, and subtle differences to consider!

Another new arrival (for me) was two RED-NECKED GREBES that cautiously paddled around the outskirts of the action.

At the head of the bay, I found a single AMERICAN WIGEON in the distance, walking along the tidelands, loosely associated with MALLARDS, also foraging.

Thanks to Steve Heinl who verified my Glaucous Gull identification, and added that they are both second cycle birds. Although one has a pronounced roundish head, it still has a short primary projection. An Iceland Gull would look slim and long-winged, and furthermore, the palest Iceland Gulls that are white are also the smallest in the group. 

I’ll keep looking and studying gulls; it’s a daily and lifetime challenge.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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