Caesar Creek State Park can run either hot, or cold for me. I’ve been making regular visits recently with birding really starting to pick up with the arrival of more ducks to the lake. As for the regular gull population, it’s been the normal Ring-bill, Herring, and Bonaparte’s Gulls. That was until 2 days ago when a friend of mine Rick A. (who has a knack for finding rarities) sighted a ABA code 3 Little Gull at Furnas Shores boat ramp. This sighting was later confirmed by several other birders as more and more people drove to Caesar Creek to see for themselves.
Little Gull (Larus minutus) are usually reported from the northern part of Ohio along Lake Erie. They’re normally seen with Bonaparte’s Gulls which are slightly larger and very similar. Field markings can be very confusing, especially from a distance if they’re resting on the water. It’s when they’re flying that they really stand out from the Bonaparte’s Gull. They’re underwings are almost blackish in color which really leaps out at you as you observe them in flight. And if they’re flying with Bonaparte’s Gulls you’ll then notice the smaller size difference.
Even though this wasn’t a “Life Bird”, I was still anxious when the first report came across Facebook’s “Ohio Chase Birds” page. However with it being the holidays and packages still be delivered, I needed to stay home to make sure “Porch Pirates” didn’t make off with them.
Late afternoon yesterday was the only time available for me to chase the bird. By the time I finally got a look at the bird, or should I say 2 Little Gulls, it was about 2:30 pm. We were losing precious light, and with thick cloud cover trying to capture anything flying with such a slow shutter speed was really difficult.
As I joined the group of birders, one of them stated that there were 2 of them. Having 1 of these birds is unusual, but 2! Indeed it was 2 as I got on both birds. What a delight. I attempted to take plenty of pictures, however with the terrible lighting conditions, distance from the bird, and slow shutter speed and my auto focus trying to sharpen a moving bird, what pictures I got were mostly for diagnostic purposes.
What I like about the above photo is the difference between the Little Gull on the left, and the Bonaparte’s Gulls on the right.