Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kumlien's Gull in Queens NYC

These days, I have been spending more time with Gulls instead of worrying about my year list which I should add is not too shabby at over 140 species for the state. Gulling in my home county of Queens is not easy due to the lack of good Gull spots. Nevertheless, every now and again while not even looking for the uncommon Gull, something of note will show up like this Kumlien's Gull that I saw on 1-17-2016, flying over Jacob Riis Park and landed at Fort Tilden where I got good looks. Below are a few photos.

Kumlien's Gull at Fort Tilden Queens NY
Kumlien's Gull, is considered by many authorities a subspecies of Iceland Gull. There are two subspecies: nominate glaucoides and kumlieni. The latter birds are called Kumlien's Gull. Birds that appear intermediate between Kumlien's and Thayer's are referred to as hybrids. The American Ornithologists' Union (1998) checklist (and supplements through 2006) allows two races of Iceland Gull within North America: L. g. glaucoides, breeding in Greenland and wintering as far south as the northeastern United States, and L. g. kumlieni, breeding from Baffin Island north to Ellesmere Island and as far west as Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay (Gaston et al. 1986 ('s, is the default subspecies for North America because of the range. This bird, is considered to be an adult Kumlien's Gull.

Kumlien's Gull at Fort Tilden Queens NY
Confused as yet? It gets even muddier. The species intergrades with Thayer's Gull on northern Baffin Island and Southampton Island (Snell 1989; Gaston and Elliot 1990) and was considered conspecific with it by Godfrey (1986) ( Some in our NY area will not even entertain the talk of "Thayeri" type, preferring to suggest that Thayer's Gull, is just another form of Iceland Gull. Fascinating stuff which every now and again leads to interesting discussions on our local NY list serve.

Shot showing the primaries as the bird was landing.
I would have loved to get good spread wing shots of this bird but it began to snow and the light deteriorated rather quickly. I barely managed one decent flight shot of this bird as it moved from one location to the next. Iceland Gulls are worth studying carefully, especially if you come across 1st - 3rd winter types. If you have never heard of the Hampton's Scale, check it out.  Steve Hampton's scale, is a neat tool that can be used to work out where your bird might fit in terms of the glaucoides-kumlieni-thayeri form.
Kumlien's Gull at Fort Tilden Queens NY

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