The Franklin’s Gull Event of 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015 is the Franklin’s Gull (FRGU) event of a New Jersey birding lifetime.
The reports started at 7:49 AM via a KEEKEEKERR text by Cameron Cox that a fly-by FRGU was seen headed towards Coral Ave. from the Cape May Hawkwatch platform. At 8:06, Richard Crossley texted that a young FRGU was seen near the Concrete Ship and with understated prescience added the following words: “A good movement of them (FRGU) is possible today.”
The reports continued to multiply throughout the morning in Cape May as the possible good movement grew into an unprecedented occurrence of this species in the birding history of New Jersey.
By 11:22 AM, Tom Reed exclaimed that 190 FRGU were seen in the Cape May area. Reports materialized from other parts of the state as well: Pt. Pleasant, Holgate, Spruce Run, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County.
27 accepted records of Franklin’s Gull are documented in the New Jersey Bird Records Committee Accepted Records List. Most are of single birds except for another Cape May FRGU event November 14-15, 1998 when 51+ were tallied from Avalon to Cape May. Today not only obliterates that previous New Jersey record in the number of FRGUs seen but also in the statewide breadth of the sightings.
In case the reader (and this writer) forgot, this is a web site dedicated to the birds of Morris and Somerset County. Any Franklin’s Gulls here? This observer viewed Lake Parsippany and Boonton Reservoir in the afternoon. Only the continuing Great Cormorant at Lake Parsippany (present since Oct. 3) and a handful of Ring-billed Gulls were at Lake Parsippany. Boonton Reservoir’s gull numbers were greatly diminished from two days ago when 140 Ring-billed Gulls were present; only 30-40 today – and no Franklin’s Gulls.
Late in the afternoon, Tom Halliwell called and said he was looking at 4 dark-backed hooded gulls at Budd Lake. Both Alan Boyd and this observer soon made it to Budd Lake (regardless of the growing traffic on I-80 West on a Friday afternoon). A total of 5 Franklin’s Gulls were spotted by Tom and Alan. This is only the second record of Franklin’s Gull for Morris County, the first being in Roxbury Twp. in 1992.
At least 10 Bonaparte’s Gulls, a drake Redhead, Horned Grebes and Ruddy Ducks joined the Franklin’s and Ring-billed Gulls on the lake. A spotting scope is required as these birds were deep into the middle of the lake headed towards the west side near the bog.
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