Laughing Gull 2003 update 1

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Laughing Gull 2003 update 1
From: "Trevor Ford" <>
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 15:06:50 +1000
This gull has style.  It first appeared on April 1st and has now chosen
January 1st to re-appear.

See below an email received from Roger Jaensch yesterday, together with my
reply.  It would seem to be most unlikely that this bird is a different
individual from the April bird as it has slotted back quickly into its
original routine.  It is now in full breeding plumage and is much easier to
pick out in a mixed flock.

This morning I relocated the gull roosting on a small island in the lagoon
at Buckley's Hole.  It was with about twenty Silver Gulls and an assorted
mixture of waders and terns.  It was present during high tide from 8am until
11.30am, although I can't vouch for its presence around 10am when Scoopy's
beckoned.  (Tom Tarrant's ham and cheese breakfast muffin looked wonderful!)
At 11.30am all of the gulls left Buckley's Hole and flew east towards
Moreton Bay.  At 1pm the Laughing Gull had returned to the sand spit off
Buckley's Hole and was still present at 1.30pm.

>From Roger Jaennsch:-

"At 1145 am today 1 January 2003, a Laughing Gull in (what I took to be)
full adult breeding plumage was seen with about 20 Silver Gulls in a shallow
pool 100 m south of the Bongaree jetty, Bribie Island, SEQ. (Possibly this
was the bird found by Trevor Ford on 1 April 02 and subsequently seen for a
week or so, but now returned in a different plumage.) I was sitting under a
foreshore gum tree having a picnic lunch with my family when I was
distracted from sorting out a dispute, by an unfamiliar "laughing" bird
call. Looking up we saw a gull with a black head only 20 m away. After
dispatching a boy to the car for my binoculars, I was able to note the
bird's key characters: size similar to Silver Gull; black hood with
separate, thin white crescents above and below the eye; bill dark red, at
least around the thick, drooped tip; legs dark, possibly black; back and
most of upperwing dark grey; primaries seemed totally black when folded and
also when flying, on upperwing and underwing; broad white trailing edge to
upperwing; rump and tail white. My recollection of Franklin's Gull (Perth,
WA, some years ago) was of a more diminutive bird with different markings in
the primaries. After 5 minutes the Laughing Gull departed to the north,
soared high, then dropped low out of sight. I saw in the distance what was
probably this bird at about 1215 pm, around 500 m north of the jetty, again
with a small group of Silver Gulls. No obvious birders could be found at the
cafe or at Buckley's Hole, perhaps avoiding the holiday crowds? As I am not
a birding-aus subscriber, Trevor or Bill, could you please post the news if
you think people will be interested? Rob, what is the BQ sightings
contact-point these days?

Also of note: several, associated dense flocks of Common Tern totalling ca.
1000 birds passed us heading south from Pumicestone Passage into Moreton Bay
at 1200 h. Tide was falling from a substantial high at about 0800. Possibly
these terns were dispersing from the Caloundra spit roost?"

My reply:-

"Bill Jolly had told me of your sighting before I received this email - I
was at Caloundra for the day so didn't get a chance to have a look on
Bribie.  Anyway, I'll be making my way towards Scoopy's tomorrow, as usual,
so will investigate the gulls.  I'd hoped for a return visit from the
Laughing Gull but it has certainly taken its time!!  If I relocate the bird
I'll make a posting to birding-aus and will copy in your note unless you
tell me otherwise.

1. How could you enjoy a picnic without your binoculars?  2. It's a rare
event to find an obvious birder on Bribie.  3. I think that the terns in the
south end of the passage are pretty much independent from the Caloundra
birds, which seem to move from the sand banks due east and seawards.  4.
Sooty Oystercatcher, Eastern Reef Egret and Wandering Tattler were at
Caloundra today in spite of the crowds.  But not as good as a Laughing

Cheers - Trevor.

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