Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | February 26, 2011

CMBO Class: Gulls Simplified

Today, I attended the Cape May School of Birding’s “GULLS SIMPLIFIED” course with Michael O’Brien. (we were also joined by the great Mike Crewe)

Course Description:
Meet 8:00 a.m. at Cape May Point State Park
From the brown and mottled to the clean and gray, you either love gulls or you don’t.Whatever camp you’re in, join Michael O’Brien for a morning in the field learning the easy way to separate the four common winter gulls and practicing sifting flocks of gulls for something rare, and perhaps even find an Iceland Gull or other species.  We’ll also cut through the fancy terminology around age and molt.  After lunch we’ll head indoors for a review of gull plumages, aging, and some of the rarer species.

Ok, so what I learned: All gulls are not “just gulls”  😉  But we knew that! The class gave us key points to remember when  ID’ing, aging and sexing the birds.

The class was A.M. field work, and P.M. workshop. We did get to see 4 species in the field – (the usual suspects: Herring, Ring-billed, the bully of the gull world- Great Black-backed and one of my favs, Bonaparte’s.)

"Bonies" - my beloved Bonaparte's Gulls that came in with the Cape May-Lewes Ferry

My favorite comic moment of the day came on the roof of a building, where a plastic “deterrent” owl was being nuzzled by a gull – so much for that!

Additionally, there was no shortage of shorebirds (which was great to experience with Michael O’Brien, the shorebird expert.) The day started with four American Oystercatchers and by lunchtime, we saw Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover and Sanderlings. A pair of Bald Eagles put on a show for us as well.)

American Oystercatcher

I definitely recommend this class – and look forward to going out onto the beach, and getting some “practice.”

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