Franklin's Gull

Leucophaeus pipixcan


Marshall Iliff
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eBird Checklist S36871173
Santa Elena--hotel Maya Internacional
Petén, Guatemala
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Latitude and Longitude 16.9234, -89.8888 Map

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Observation details

**rare, but large fallout of this species (650+) in Blue Creek rice fields of Belize two days ago, so with heavy rain from at least 21:00-01:30 we awoke early specifically to look for this species and other species of waterbird migrant that might "fall out" in bad weather; first spotted in scope by MJI at about 05:15: group of three small dark-backed hills with jet black heads sitting in tight raft on water. Although the tight group of three in breeding plumage made these instantly recognizable as Franklin's (all 6 Laughings we had seen on the lake were immatures without black heads), but only when they flew could we see definitive field marks. Fortunately they flew closer and sat on the water, allowing for definitive digoscopes before picking up and flying off to the W, past town and north of the island, to be lost from view at 05:42. Field marks: small gulls, with wings rather short at rest compared to Laughing. In flight wings appeared short and flaps somewhat fluttery, unlike Laughing. Wingtips quite rounded at tips in flight. Wing pattern in flight diagnostic for Franklin's: dark gray upperwing, white sun terminal band across out 4-5 primaries separated black wingtip, with large white apical spots at tips of primaries also showing very tip of wing as white. On water, the heads were black with bold white eye crescents above and below the eye, bills were rather short (color not visible), and white nape extensive (unlike Laughing which has grayish wash). One bird in flight appeared pinkish. Digiscopes to be added later.

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