Nick and I visited the Frank W. Spencer Boat Ramp Park in Savannah, GA this past Sunday, and we discovered that this place was a great little treasure of a spot to find shorebirds, gulls, terns, and other water birds. We went at low tide in the evening and found at least 28 species. But one in particular caught our eye.
|Black-Headed Gull - Notice the size difference with the Ring-Billed Gull|
We noticed a small gull hanging out with a peculiar grouping of birds. Hooded Mergansers, Snowy Egrets, and Ring-Billed gulls were traveling across the water in a tight little pack. We found it funny that this hodge podge of birds were hanging out together. And then there was this little gull that we at first glance figured to be a Bonaparte's Gull due to its size, stature, and markings on its head. However, upon closer inspection, we noticed that it had a thicker, red bill. This most certainly had to be something different.
|Black-Headed Gull - The bill is clearly red and quite stout (compared to a Bonaparte's Gull). And the mantle is quite clean and pale.|
After coming home to check our field guides and compare them to the photos we took, we determined that this must be a Black-Headed Gull! The bill color and shape, along with the pale mantle gives it away. Nick and I were ecstatic at this possibility that we've stumbled upon such a rarity for these parts, but we've had some birding experts confirm that this must be a Black-Headed Gull, if not something more rare. This is truly amazing. We are working through the proper channels to get the word out, but we wanted to post this here ASAP.
Nick went back to the boat ramp/dock this morning around 8am, around low tide, and was able to relocate the gull amongst about 30 Hooded Mergansers. We went back again to the dock around 11am, but were not able to relocate the gull, or much of anything else for that matter. The tide was high, and not too much was around except for a handful of Hooded Mergansers, some Double Crested Cormorants, and a few herons and egrets. We will go back again this evening closer to low tide to try to get more pics, especially of the underwing, to reinforce this sighting as a Black-Headed Gull. This is truly the best Valentine's Day gift! Better than all the chocolate and roses money can buy!