Mew Gull

Larus canus


Jeff Ellerbusch
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eBird Checklist S33421873
Opie Road
Somerset, New Jersey, United States
Search this location, Illustrated Checklist
Latitude and Longitude 40.5192, -74.7178 Map



Observation details

Second New Jersey state record and first Somerset County record. Adult; slightly smaller than nearby RBGU; slightly, but noticeably darker backed than surrounding RBGU (heavily overcast conditions with even light); small, rounded head with relatively heavily marked nape/neck and crown/head; prominent, apparently all dark, beady eye; small, yellow-ish bill (more yellow towards the tip) with maybe just a hint of a smudge “ring” (the latter not seen in the field but appears to be the case in photos); presumably brachyrhynchus but without wing detail probably not definitive; low quality but useable photos below (poor light plus drizzle/mist), and many more available. Did not see or photograph the open wings as everything flushed literally seconds after I put my camera and bins down on passenger seat and went for my phone. This bird was almost missed entirely and only noticed as I glanced over at what I figured was simply a small, and entirely RBGU sub flock feeding off a little ways to the west from the larger (albeit scattered) feeding flock which I had just finished scanning through. This bird jumped out immediately due to the darker upperparts as I did a quick naked eye scan over the group while I was pulling off having finished scanning the SW field from inside my car due to rain (slowly bin scanning while heading west). I watched and photographed the bird from the car for just under 5min (4:26pm - 4:30pm according to camera data) and with everything looking fine for MEGU, I put my camera and bins down and went for my phone when this group, including the MEGU, picked up along with the rest of the gulls at the west end and headed ENE (directly behind me). Despite jumping out of the car in a desperate attempt to relocate the bird in flight I couldn’t find it in the chaos with everything heading dead away and was unable to get anything on the open wings. The rest of the gulls and geese to the east started getting up and leaving to the NE as well over the next few minutes as light faded. I don’t know where the area's gulls roost and local numbers are sporadic and hard to keep track of as feeding is often weather driven with gulls feeding on flooded out earthworms during wet conditions. Flocks typically head in an easterly/NE direction in the evenings and flocks are seen occasionally coming from the east in the mornings at Duke Farms and Finderne Wetlands (both east of here) and may imply that they are roosting down river somewhere but it’s generally messy and not clear cut. There are no known gull roosts in Somerset County. Another option (perhaps the likeliest?) would be the Hunterdon reservoirs which do hold large numbers of roosting RBGU, so maybe birds head E/NE in the evening along the river before heading back west (?). Yesterday's (1390) and today's (900) RBGU numbers are well above average for the area and there is no rain in tomorrow’s forecast, but hopefully this bird will be re-found as it was not chaseable today.

Technical Information

Canon EOS 7D
Lens model
EF400mm f/5.6L USM
Focal length
400 mm
Shutter speed
1/400 sec
Flash did not fire, auto
Original file size
3516 x 2436

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