Ivory Gull & Others at Hillman Marsh worth the trip

Ron.Mccullick@dana.com Ron.Mccullick at dana.com
Thu Jan 12 11:58:34 EST 2006

For anyone contemplating at trip to Hillman Marsh by Point Pelee to chase 
the Ivory Gull; it is a great bird and worth the trip by itself, however 
it is not the only reason to make the trip. There are currently thousands 
of gulls in the area. We estimated about 6 to 7 thousand on the marsh at 
one time and thousands more out on Lake Erie at the ice edge.  Most are 
Ring-bills and Herring, but it is a great chance to learn gull 
identification skills and/or brush up on the variations in gulls.  I had 
10 gull species on Tuesday.  Here are my observations: counts are based on 
birds seen at the same time, or with enough variation to determine it was 
definitely a different bird.  By no means do I claim to be an expert, and 
I am not counting any maybes? and with that many birds, I am sure I missed 
some  too. 

1) Ring-billed - 6 thousand? 
2) Herring - several hundred?
3) Great Black-backed - 100+
4) Bonaparte's - 4 surprisingly easy to miss with that many Ring-bills
5) Lesser Black-backed - 4 early in the day:  2 adults, 2 juvenile; but 
only one adult seemed to hand around all day
6) Thayer's - 1 adult, 1 immature. The adult appeared to hang around all 
day, but was difficult to pick out of the 100s of Herrings. 
7) Iceland - 1 immature - easy to see all day long 
8) Glaucous Gull - 1 immature, seemed to come and go through out the day
9) California - 1 3rd year - I only saw it once for around a 1/2 hour just 
before noon 
10) Ivory - 1 1st year  - late in the day, bedded down Tuesday night 
between clumps of grass on the island in the middle of the marsh.

Plus more Ring-bills with a pinkish tinge than I am used to seeing

Other birds noted at the Marsh:
The expected sparrows, juncos, hawks, etc. the ones I found interesting 
Male Pheasant 
Adult Bald Eagle
Marsh Harriers - male and female
3 Great Horned Owls - taking turns calling before sunrise

Off the North beach -  the usual diving ducks and Mergansers one would 
expect on Lake Erie this time of year

Good luck if you decide to make a day of it this weekend! 

Ron McCullick
Rochester Hills MI 

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