I find that it’s always a good idea to carefully scrutinize flocks of shorebirds for the rarity who may be trying pass unnoticed among the hoi polloi. When I do spot an unfamiliar shorebird, I snap a few images for future research. Terns and gulls most commonly are the cause of these identification puzzlements.
Usually the mystery bird is not a rarity at all, but rather a youngster of a common species. Perhaps the most common gulls at East Beach are Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, and Ring-billed Gulls. All of these species have distinct breeding and non-breeding plumages as well as juvenile colors significantly different from those of the adult birds.
This great seasonal and developmental variation in appearance within a singles species is one of the challenges of birding. And one that keeps me, at least, heading back to the reference books after just about every trip to the beach.
Fashion changes, but style endures.—Coco Chanel
©2014 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.