20.4.16

Iceland Gull vs Yellow-throated warbler

My new yard bird seems to be settling in. She's been here for over two weeks now. She's pure white, hinting at her arctic provenance. She's delicate, dainty even, yet nonchalantly aggressive with the herring gulls. Once in a while, she'll even deign to challenge the great black-backs.

She's an iceland gull; a first cycle bird so bleached she could be a white kumliens* or rare glaucoides.

In my wilderness-starved apartment, it's fun to wake up each morning, look through the window and see her on the pier, wandering among the loafing locals.



One day during her sojourn, a glaucous gull turned up, loafed a little, but didn't stay. The chances of me happening on this glaucous by chance among the 150 herrings and black-backs, had I not been scanning for the iceland, are very small.**

So, she also brought me a new county-bird, in the form of her bigger, badder cousin. Thank you.


(Contender for worst glaucous pic ever - cellphone + scope at 60x + bedroom window glass - but you can still see that inimitable beady glaucous eye) 

Finally, a few days ago, I saw her over on the Manhattan side, while on the way to twitch a yellow-throated warbler in Central Park.

Two birds I'd never have expected to see on the same day, let alone both in Manhattan.


* Iceland gull taxonomy is a mess. My view would be that there are two species - Thayers in the west (darkest) and nominate Iceland in the east (palest), with kumliens representing a hybrid swarm between the two. But this is unproven, based on sampling on wintering not breeding grounds, ungrounded in any kind of molecular analysis, and wrought by many phenotypic issues. Not least like the one represented by this bird, which is closer to glaucoides than kumliens in many plumage details.  

**Moral of that story - when you see a screech of gulls, give it a quick look!

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About Me

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NYC, Buxton, Buenos Aires
I work in NYC and own a wildlife and wilderness agency specializing in the southern cone of South America. I still do some guiding down there, especially looking for Fuegian and Patagonian avifauna. I'm particularly interested in the wintering ecology of neotropical migrants, and in avian biogeography in general. You can follow me at - @domhall And find me at - AventuraArgentina.com