Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Gulling" Quidi Vidi Lake

 QV Lake has a long history as a catchment for rare gulls. Gull enthusiast hang around the area as they battle the harsh elements of winter. An annual workshop is held lake side to orient new gull watchers to the variety of gulls that flock there.
 Each year, with anticipation, binoculars scan the thousands the gulls sitting on the ice. Without fail, just as an interesting one is spotted, along comes an eagle, a Peregrine Falcon, a Northern Goshawk or this year... a Red-tailed Hawk fly in and flush the thousands into the air. The hope of relocating a target bird diminishes. The bird-of-fame this year, so far, is this Slaty-backed Gull.
 For many birders, seeing this bird is a first-time experience. For other, long-term birders the joy of seeing this great gull never fades.
 While waiting for the target bird to show up, I spent several hours scanning the many, many gulls.
 They come in all sizes, shapes, colors and ages. Around the lake yesterday, I saw at five Lesser Back-backed Gulls. Not one was like the other.
 This particular one would frequently come close, strutting and posing for the camera.
 It is in a very interesting state of transition.
 Others were more typical looking. Common among most of them is the distinct gray mantle, a cross between a Herring gray and a Black-backed Gulls dark black mantle.
 It is this gray color, that caused my eyes to lock on them at every turn.

 Then, there is this immature, 2nd cycle (thanks Dave Brown) Lesser Black-backed Gull.
 It stood out because of its small size.
 Then, hidden away was this interesting small, dark-backed gull.
 The mantle was not totally black. Given the clean head, dark gray mantle and small size, I looked it over closely with the hope it just might be something "special."
 Pictures helped to get an ID on the bird which was confirmed to be a small Great Black-backed Gull.
 For some, sitting for hours staring at a moving puzzle of gulls would be just too much. For others, it is never boring and could go on all day.
 As I scanned I watched this Herring Gull begin to bully another. Without provocation, it just went right up to a resting gull and grabbed its wing. It pulled the bird across the ice.
The poor victim got up several times and tried to pull away with no avail. It would sit again, only to be pulled over the ice.
At last, it gave its best effort and managed to pull away. It wasted no time getting away from the bully. There is a bevy of gulls and a full-time show of gull behaviour. It really never gets old.

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