Franklin's Gull, Larus pipixcan
The unexpected appearance of this gull at Centurion has given many a birder one of the easiest ticks on his / her life list ever! The bird is very much at home at this spot and will most likely be hanging around for a while. Just don’t ask me why… this water body is a real vrotgat! (stink hole). Wildtuinman helped me navigate through the Pretoria peak hour traffic to a relatively quiet spot next to the water and within five minutes he had located the bird. Thanks for a nice one, WTM
For an in-depth read, check out this
It is not unusual for the Franklin’s gull to hang around away from the coast… in their usual haunts back in Canada and the USA that is exactly where they are found – mainly some way off the coast!Large view
The Franklin's Gull is unique among gulls in having two complete molts each year rather than one. This is an adaptation in order to maintain their status as one of the world champion long-distance migrants. They need new, strong feathers in order to meet the demands of their 8000-kilometre flights. After nesting in the central provinces of Canada and adjacent states of the northern USA, they undergo a complete molting of their feathers, then fly south to the coast of Texas, and continue south along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. From there they make an overland flight across to the Pacific Coast which they follow all the way to southern Peru and northern Chile. After spending the winter there, they undergo another complete feather molt, and follow the same migration route in reverse.
Rare vagrants fly to northwest Europe, south and west Africa, Australia and Japan. Some records exist around the coastline of South Africa, but this sighting made at Centurion is only the 2nd inland record.
Young birds are similar to the adult but have less developed hoods and lack the white wing band. They take three years to reach maturity. This bird is in non-breeding adult plumage.
Like most gulls they are omnivorous, eating insects, earthworms, fish, mice, garbage and seeds. They forage while walking or swimming and sometimes hawk insects on the wing.