Last Friday it was Gus’ day off so we decided to drive over to Revere Beach and walk. The beach was surprisingly un-crowded, and almost deserted for a late, but warm summer day. As we walked along the beach we saw hundreds of gulls, but then I saw this beauty, a small gull on the sand at the edge of the water. Much smaller than the Great Black-backed, Herring, and Ring-billed gulls I had been seeing, this little bird has a dark eye, a black beak, and that funny little “ear” patch, a remnant from its black hood seen during the breeding season. Note also the pinkish-red legs. And while Laughing Gulls have dark eyes and a black hood, they are much larger and their beak is much heavier looking with hints of red or completely red and their legs are reddish black. But once the bird took flight the identity was completely sealed for only the Bonaparte's has those translucent outer primaries seen in flight.
Here you can see the white outer triangle of feathers on the wing which are a key field mark for Bonaparte's Gull. This is my first Bonaparte's Gull in Massachusetts and the first I have identified all on my own. I have only seen them in two other places: at the Guntersville Dam in Alabama in March of 2010 and at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah in November of 2006.
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