It is that time of the year when most of our wintering gulls depart to their breeding grounds in North America... and is not rare to see some species in unusual sites or in massive numbers gathering together to start (or continue) the long journey. For example, some days ago I went to one of the huge malls in Panama City for some last minute shopping; however, something caught my attention at the parking lot:
|Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls|
It is not rare to see the common Laughing Gulls at the mall and at the nearby bus terminal, but this time I saw a nice Ring-billed Gull among them. This is not the first time this species had been reported there, but certainly was the first one for me. The Ring-billed Gulls are regular along the coast in Panama City... but this place is not in the coast.
I then moved to Panama Viejo, where the extensive mudflats attracts hundreds of Laughing Gulls... but this time, they were outnumbered by Franklin's Gulls. Of course, both species are regular in Panama... but is only during migration when you can see these numbers.
|Laughing and Franklin's Gulls|
Not only that, most of the Franklin's Gulls were in alternate plumage, with a very nice rose color to the breast and conspicuous wing patterns and black hoods. They were easily ID at flight as you can see in the next photos:
There are been several reports of Franklin's Gulls flocks in northern Central America as well... so it is time to grab your binoculars to watch out these gulls passing through!