Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring has Sprung in Laramie

Over the past week, birds have started showing up to the Laramie area. On the Plains Lakes, hundreds of Redheads (Aythya americana), Lesser Scaup, and many other waterfowl are filling in the recently thawed ponds and lakes.

Redhead (Aythya americana) with Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) - Lake Hattie, WY
Redhead (Aythya americana) - Lake Hattie, WY

Along with waterfowl, gulls are also returning to the Laramie Plains, with California Gulls (Larus californicus) making up the bulk of the diversity. The star of the past weekend, however, was a young Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) that James Maley found at Sevenmile Lake. This sighting represents the first time that this species has ever been found in Wyoming! 

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) - First state record for Wyoming
Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) - First state record for Wyoming
California Gull (Larus californicus) - Meeboer Lake, WY

Not to be outdone, on Monday, Don Jones discovered an adult Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) on Meeboer Lakes, part of the Plains Lakes, which represents only the third time this species has been found in Wyoming.  Associating with the Great Black-backed Gull was also a Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus), a rare visitor from Europe.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) - Meeboer Lake, WY
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) (left) with a
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) (right) - Meeboer Lake, WY
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) with other gulls - Lake Hattie, WY

In addition to the waterfowl and other early spring migrants, the area is still hosting good numbers of winter finches, including all 3 of the rosy-finch species (Leucosticte sp.) and continuing numbers of Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea).

Gray-crowned Rosy-finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) - Buford, WY

In the coming weeks, waterfowl will continue to come into the area, as well as more blackbirds and McCown's Longspurs (Rhychophanes mccownii) among many others.

Note: all photos in this post are © Shawn Billerman

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