Thanks to Charlene and Jackie for posting this morning's finds.  As Charlene 
mentioned, I was a certainly beside myself when I got to Riverlands, St. Charles 
County, this morning and quickly found some of the less common gulls.  To make 
it even better, they were all found along Riverlands Way across from Wise Road 
(well, all but one of them) - Many MoBirds readers may be used to 
hearing/reading of rare gulls at Riverlands, but the truth is that they are 
usually on the Illinois side - So, it was a real treat to get them all on the 
Missouri side this morning.  Anyways, here is the scoop and links to photos:
Ellis Bay (observerd from Riverlands Way approximately across from Wise Road):
Their were 100's of gulls all over this morning as the ice starts to melt.  One 
of the first birds I noted was this first-cycle THAYER'S GULL:  Note the dainty all black bill, round 
head without a sloped forehead.  Tertials and primaries brown (not black)...  
and although not observed well in the photo, the primaries were all edged pale.  
Further out in Ellis Bay an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was observed.  At 
this point I meandered further down Riverlands Way to look for the Short-eared 
Owl that has been seen as of late.  However, I had a hard time focusing on the 
grasslands with all the gulls I could see down at the dam.  So, I drove down to 
the dam and immediately found the first-cycle GLAUCOUS GULL flying around the 
spillway, and later sitting on the dam wall.  

Eventually I made my way back to checking out the gulls again from Riverlands 
Way and Wise Road.  No sooner than pulling up this time I noticed there were now 
2 adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS sitting on the ice:  Shortly after scanning to the left of 
one of the Lesser Black-backeds I saw this bird:  (note the bird on far left)...  Could 
not believe it at this point, an adult ICELAND GULL to add to the mix.  This 
might have been the first time I called to let Charlene know things were going 
very well with the gulls at Riverlands.  Here is another shot of the ICELAND'S 
wings spread:  After feeling I 
exhausted my search of this location I decided to take a quick spin to the 
confluence to see if a Short-eared Owl was hanging out along the confluence 
road.  No luck again with the Short-eared Owl, but did observe one of the 
MERLINs that has been being seen as well as an adult PEREGRINE FALCON.  

Back to watch the gulls from Riverlands Way across from Wise Road...  Well, this 
is where it gets interesting.  All the gulls listed above were still present.  
Then I noticed another 'near adult gull', with a slightly darker mantle.....  
Well, at least it appeared slightly darker.  However, at this point there were 
no birds next to it to have a direct comparison of mantle colors.  I have been 
fooled enough by lighting to know how mantle colors of gulls change depending on 
the angle of the sun, cloud cover, etc.  Regardless, I was positive this bird's 
mantle was at least a shade or two darker than any Ring-billed or Herring Gull 
that I could see, off in the distance, and certainly paler than the Lesser 
Black-backed Gull directly off to my right.  Eventually it happened, a 
Ring-billed Gull flew in for direct comparison - Yes, the mantle is definitely 
darker...  The eye was certainly 
brown, the bill even appeared to be rather parallel sided at this point, but not 
quite the easy 'adult' bill colors of the bird I was wanting it to 
be...  That is OK, I just coughed it 
up as likely being a third-cycle bird.  And, yes I certainly realize the bill 
does not appear parallel sided at all in the picture - But that was only noted  
after looking at these pictures - In the field it certainly 'looked' parallel 
sided.   Back to the past tense... the bird was certainly longer and more 
slender looking than the Ring-billed.  Well, it eventually took flight for a 
short while where I was able to get a couple OK flight shots:  Somewhere in here I felt pretty good 
that I had a California and made my second call to Charlene.  Eventually it 
landed and an adult Herring joined the mix....  Yes, certainly smaller than a 
Herring, mantle color is still grayer  
Legs do appear pretty pink though?  I thought this was OK for a California Gull 
an a non-adult plumage...

So, to try to wrap up this post on New Year's Eve and join my family's fun 
festivities...   Well, I think I might have called this bird a California too 
quickly.  The bill is wrong, the leg color is wrong.  I am not sure what this 
bird is, hybrid something with Lesser Black-backed?  I don't know.  I would 
GREATLY appreciate any feedback - Likely others on the list would also 
appreciate it.  Until then I will research much more myself (or 'play birds' as 
the family calls it), maybe I will even get to break out those new Pyle guides I 
was so kindly given for Christmas....  But, the truth is I think I made a 
mistake - What a tricky bird....  Bottom line, I do not think the fieldmarks 
equal California Gull. 

Happy New Year - Good Luck to all those able to make the count tomorrow at RMBS.


 Joshua Uffman
St. Louis County, MO
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