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Franklin's Gulls - September 22, 2012

Franklin's Gulls at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County
Steve Sanford found these five Franklin's Gulls at Shenango Reservoir on 22 September following the passage of a cold front. I managed to make it to the reservoir in time to see and photograph them (rather distantly, but who is complaining) before they departed shortly after noon. In my post to the PABIRDS list I speculated that this probably represented the first record for Mercer County, but in fact there is another record: one at Shenango on 13 August 1999. (Incidentally, 1999 was the last time that water levels at Shenango were as low in August as they were this year.)
The second and third photos below depict all five birds. Note in the first photo the two entirely white outer tail feathers, which taken with the partial hoods and broad white eye-arcs, are diagnostic for Franklin's. They're also noticeably smaller and darker-mantled than Ring-billed Gulls in direct comparison.
Congratulations to Steve for this outstanding find. Even aside from scoring a second record for Mercer, any record of multiple Franklin's Gulls anywhere in Pennsylvania is extraordinary!
For a much better study of juvenile/first winter Franklin's Gull, click here for photos of the amazing bird that was at the Pymatuning spillway in August 2009.

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 2x TC III, 1/1000 sec. at f/8 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 2x TC III, 1/800 sec. at f/8 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 2x TC III, 1/800 sec. at f/8 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2012 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in purchasing a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.