Franklin's Gull in Victoria

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Bill Ramsay" <>, "Stuart Cooney" <>, "Andrew Stafford" <>, "Margaret Cameron" <>, "Rob Ganly" <>
Subject: Franklin's Gull in Victoria
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 22:11:41 -0000

On Sunday 18 January, a ‘black-headed’ gull was seen briefly in flight at Breamlea, some 20 km S of Geelong on the Otway coast in Victoria, (per Margaret Cameron).

About lunchtime next day (yesterday), Jenny Zimmerman watched a similar bird squabbling with Silver Gulls on a beach at Anglesea, 22 km to the SW. It was indifferent to the holidaying throng. The bird was outstanding with a wholly black hood and prominent white eyelids. So it was either a Laughing or a Franklin’s Gull. She alerted Geoff Price at BA HQ and the twitchers were on their way. Most searched today and as far as I know, all including me (yet again), dipped! So did the few who went immediately yesterday, except for Rob Ganly who at 17.10, stumbled across some boys tossing it chips! He obtained some excellent digital pictures at very close range. Unfortunately, they are not as revealing as we would like because the bird was mostly facing him and didn’t fly!

Jenny described the primaries as almost entirely black and Rob agreed. This suggested that it was a Laughing Gull. But Rob reckoned that the wing projection beyond the tail was short. This suggested that it was a Franklin’s Gull. At this stage I’ve seen just one of the photos and I reckon it’s a Franklin’s for the following reasons.

1)     Visible even in the closed wing, is a white bar across the base of the primaries.

2)     The white eyelids are very broad.

3)     Although it is a slightly foreshortened view, bill structure seems to fit that species better.

 So why are there no white mirrors? The photo shows that the primaries are extremely worn but there is a trace of the original white tip. This of course, also makes the wings appear shorter than they should, falsely emphasizing the less attenuated appearance of Franklin’s.    

 If anyone finds it, please advise me immediately. It would be a milestone, bringing up 450 species for me in Victoria!

Incidentally, Bob Swindley found two Oriental Pratincoles at the WTP, Werribee, on Sunday.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136
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