IOS hosted the 16th annual Gull Frolic on Saturday, February 11th, at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club in the northeast corner of the state. As temperatures soared toward 50F degrees and without any ice for the gulls to rest on, despite our best efforts to chum them in, it quickly became apparent that gulls would be hard to come by on this day. Still, scoping Lake Michigan early in the morning, birders were treated to good views of a flyby Great Black-backed Gull, a handful of Long-tailed Ducks and about a dozen White-winged Scoters.
Back inside the yacht club, attendees listened intently as Jean Iron passionately told of her shorebird surveys on the vast mudflats and coastal marshes of James Bay. Jean’s presentation focused on her shorebird research and James Bay’s specialty birds, including rufa Red Knots and Akimiski Island Marbled Godwits that were surprisingly found to winter in the Baja California, Mexico. Wow!
In addition to Jean’s presentation, several exhibitors had interactive tables at the event. Attendees could examine specimens of shorebirds and gulls with the Field Museum’s Doug Stotz or learn about Josh Engel’s new tour company, featuring trips to South Africa or northern Minnesota.
Of course, the food was not to be missed. Volunteers, Janice Sweet and Karen Lund, served up pizza and salad and the specialty of the Gull Frolic, seagull stew.
During lunch, IOS President, Matthew Cvetas, recognized long time IOS members, Denis Bohm and Geoff Williamson, with custom framed artwork by young birders, Nandu Dubey and Luke Haberkorn. Denis received a striking Yellow-headed Blackbird by Nandu and Geoff, a painting of Rufous Hummingbirds by Luke.
Gulling typically picks up after lunch and this year was no exception. Despite there being only about 100 gulls present, birders were still able to spot 2 Thayer’s Gulls and a Iceland (Kumlien’s) Gull in the feeding flock at close range. Many were able to obtain great photos of these white-wingers.
IOS would like to thank Amar Ayyash, Jean Iron, all our exhibitors, and volunteers for helping us put on another successful Frolic.
Join us next year for the premier gull watching event in the United States.