Sunday, March 9, 2014

Patagonia Picnic Table Iceland Gull

While searching for the Baikal Teal that Russell Cannings found on the 7th of March, Bernard Schroeder and I found a first winter Iceland Gull about 200 meters from where all of the birders were standing in the rain waiting for the teal to return. It was a nice looking little gull, showing none of the Kumlien's/Thayer's Gull marks which can cause so much controversy with this species.

Other birds of interest seen while searching for the teal include;
American Black Duck: 5 at Quennel Lake, and Doole Rd, at Yellow Point
Tundra Swan: 3 near Yellow Point
Band-tailed Pigeon: 2 in Cedar
Northern Shrike: 1 near the parking lot on Raines Rd
Brown-headed Cowbird: 1 in a large flock of blackbirds along Raines Rd

As to the Baikal Teal, it was seen on the 8th until about 7:40. We arrived a bit later, and never saw the bird. Some that did see it, were suggesting that it may be a hybrid of some type. When I viewed the bird on the 7th, I did feel that the head markings were not quite the same as what I was expecting, but that overall, the bird looked good for a Baikal Teal. I assumed that the "slightly off" head markings were a function of age, if the bird were a first winter individual. While there are some photos on the web that show birds claimed to have been hybrids with odd head markings similar to this bird, they also show other features which are different than a textbook Baikal Teal. I'm not sure this bird shows any of those other features pointing to it being a hybrid. At this point, I'm not sure what to think, without a much better look at the bird. Keeping an open mind as to all of the possibilities and getting much better looks at this bird in the field, is the only way to approach the identification of this bird.