Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-48

Common name:

Western Gull

Scientific name: Larus occidentalis
Date: 16 May 2013
Time: ~8 am
Length of time observed: 5 min
Number: 1
Age: Adult non breeding
Sex:  ?
Location: Neponset Reservoir, Deseret Ranch
County: Rich
Distance to bird: 150 yds
Optical equipment: Svarovski spotting scope
Weather: chilly, very windy with gusts to 30-40 kts
Light Conditions: overcast but good light
Description:        Size of bird: large gull, ~ 24 in tall
(Description:)       Basic Shape: gull shaped
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: white head, very dark gray back, almost black
(Description:)            Bill Type: yellow bill withbulbuous tip with dark spot
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Flock of 30+ California gulls along beach at reservoir hunkered down in very windy conditions. One gull clearly larger with much darker back. Observed through scope for about 5 minutes. Bill larger at tip, but could not distinguish color of spot on tip of bill. Head was all white with no streaking. Legs light colored
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Standing along shore of reservoir with a coup of California gulls hunkered down in strong wind. Only a handful of Forster's terns were flying due to wind
Habitat: Stony beach at edge of large reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Yellow footed: by location and lack of yellow legs
Glaucous winged: much darker and this bird had totally white head with no brown streaking
Slaty backed: lack of streaking on neck and head, no stripe through eye, legs not pink, location
California: larger and darker
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Observed frequently along California coast and recently at Antelope Island causeway
References consulted: National Geographic and iBord Pro
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: John C Ruckdeschel, MD
Observer's address: 10838 Willow Heights Dr. Las vegas NV 89135
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: several members of Great Salt lake Bird group in particular my adult daughter Emily Ruckdeschel, MD
Date prepared: 26 May 2013
Additional material:  
Additional_Comments: Live in Vegas but work in Utah so 'home' is actually Kimball Junction