Saturday, January 18, 2014

Little Gull and Glaucous Gull, Boca Chica - January 18, 2014

Following up on Dan Jones' report from yesterday of a Glaucous Gull at the mouth of the Rio Grande in Mexico, and a Little Gull in the USA, I headed to Boca Chica Beach this morning. I arrived at about 7:45 and quickly found the Little Gull sitting on the south side of the river in Tamaulipas.  My efforts to digiphone were thwarted by bad light (haze and strong sunlight) and the truly 'little' nature of this bird. Little Gulls like to sit with small gulls and terns, and this bird was at the back side of a large flock of Forster's Terns. Unfortunately, the river's edge was lined with Herring Gulls, Brown Pelicans, and other birds that easily blocked the Little Gull.  Fishermen flushed the birds several times, and I could not relocate the Little Gull. 
I drove the beach up to the SPI Inlet jetties, finding the Glaucous Gull about 1.5 miles south of the beach crossing.  Success!  Now if it would just go back to roost with the others in Mexico... I went back down to the river mouth, and didn't see the Glaucous Gull this time.

I spent some more time at the river mouth, and the Little Gull flew by me so close I didn't have time to get the camera up.  I tried to find the bird to no avail - until I looked at the Laughing Gulls next to me!  There was the Little Gull, undecided whether to hang out with the Laughing Gulls or peck at things with the Sanderling.
It was quickly flushed by shell collectors and flew back to Mexico.  I watched the Little Gull fly back to the US to join a feeding flock and quickly return to roost in Mexico.  I last saw the Little Gull sitting at the sand spit on the south side about 11:30 PM.

I drove north along the beach, and 0.3 miles south of the beach crossing I saw some fishermen cleaning their catch ... and the Glaucous Gull was mooching fish from them.  I went over to get some photos, and watch the big Glaucous Gull mostly dominating the smaller gulls.  One Herring did steal his fish carcass, but the Glaucous quickly claimed the next one.
Thanks Dan for your great find, the second Cameron County Little Gull - and also evidently the second for Mexico!