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Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan), Eilat's north beach, 01/Jul/06

Yoav Perlman

On July 1st 2006, I arrived in the early morning at the famous north beach of Eilat. Driving in, I noticed that there was no wind blowing, which made my expectations of the morning soar. Anyway, as I got out of my car, before unpacking my gear, I had a quick scan through my binoculars towards the fish cages. The first bird I saw was a small gull, with a black hood, prominent eye ring, grey upperparts and striking wing pattern! I immediately knew I was watching either a Franklin’s or a Laughing Gull (I must admit I didn’t remember the exact wing pattern of Laughing Gull, as I left my bird guide at home). While frantically trying to get better scope views and a few record shots, I phoned all IRDC members, for online consultation, but they were all fast asleep at this early Saturday morning… I finally managed to get hold of Tomer Landsberger, who described to me over the phone the different wing patterns of both species, and I identified the bird as a Franklin’s Gull.
I spent the morning watching the bird as it flew across the gulf, but it stayed mostly quite far offshore, hunting near the fish cages. I managed to get some record shots of it though.

If accepted, this should be the second record for Israel, after the first which was also at Eilat, in June 2003 (James P. Smith et al.), a bird which I successfully twitched back then. This should also be the first record for Jordan, as the bird flew across the border to Aqaba a few times.
The bird was seen also on the following day (2/7/06).

During both mornings I spent at north beach, the gulf looked very productive for seabirds, with much activity, and birds coming and going. Other highlights were two first-summer Arctic Terns, a few groups of Bridled Terns, the largest being of 13 birds, one White-cheeked Tern, probably in 2nd-summer plumage, four Arctic Skuas and one Pomarine Skua. Other interesting birds present were two Greater Sandplovers, four Squacco Herons and one Purple Heron, an early Common kingfisher, and a small flock of 15 European Bee-eaters. I made a quick visit to the KM 20 saltpans, and found the long-staying Lesser Flamingo feeding among five Greater Flamingos.

Last seen: 03/Jul/06
Franklin's Gull Franklin's Gull Franklin's Gull Franklin's Gull
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