Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gulls Galore!

     Today on lunch break, my awesome coworker and I took a lunchtime walk out at Kaiser Park. It finally felt like Spring, with temperatures in the upper 50's, so a walk on the beach was perfect today! Kaiser park is on Coney Island, on the side facing Coney Island Creek and Gravesend Bay. It is unfortunately covered in so much debris, trash, tires, parts of who knows what-- and ironically is a great place to see wildlife.
     On our walk we were able to see 6 different species of gull, some first of the year Eastern Phoebes, and even a Northern gannet. It was a fun adventure and a great way to spend part of the day.
Brant will continue to be a common sight, but as we make our way through April, we will see less and less, as they head back North.
This is like a paparazzi gull shot. I was really excited to see my first of the year laughing gull! He is the one with the black head, among ring billed, and young herring gulls. 
Brant sometimes are that bird that people get sick of seeing, "what is it?! oh, just a brant." But you know come next winter, Brant signal the coming of winter migrants from the far North. I'm happy to see these guys no matter what, I'm glad they are making their journeys and doing so successfully year after year.
These ring billed gulls have some serious swagger. They know they look good. As breeding season approaches, the mature gulls take on that perfect white body, grey wings with no blemish and perfect, jet black tipped wings. You have to admit, they do look fantastic.
Like seriously, this ring billed gull is sexy, and he knows it.
I was super happy to see this gull. This is a Boneparte's will also soon be leaving the area- but glad to see him before he's gone because I have never seen a Bonepart's gull before today!
This little guy was actively bathing in the surf. This gull is smaller than most others on the beach, when mature and ready to breed, these gulls also have a black head, like the laughing gull. But, unlike the laughing gull they have orange-ish legs and feet.
Typically the common person refers to gulls as sea gulls. While this bird is indeed on the ocean right now, they nest in trees in the boreal forests nears freshwater sources in Canada and there eat mainly insects over the summer months. 
I adore this little guy! As I try more and more to identify my gulls, you start seeing the little (and sometimes big) differences between them that can be so easily over looked. I love that about being a naturalist, making observations allow you to really notice the little things that many others fail to notice. And as a teacher, I like sharing my knowledge and teaching people how to make these observations themselves.
I hope, now that I have seen this little gull that I will see him again and easily recognize him!
3 turkey vultures cruised by, and it seemed to make the birds on the beach a bit uneasy. They just kept cruising northward, making their way back from their winter vaycay down south.
Just before leaving I noticed another one of those gulls that doesn't look like the others. And it reminds me of this comic by Bird and Moon.
I did see a Glaucous gull this winter, at Bush Terminal Park. This bird just was much closer and in the sunlight really was blinding! This is another bird that will soon be off on an adventure Northward. This made for species 6 of the gulls we saw today: 1. ring billed gull, 2. herring gull, 3. greater black backed gull, 4. laughing gull, 5. Boneparte's gull, and 6. the glaucous. 
Soon all these Northerners will be skiddadling to make way for the winter snowbirds, like warblers, tanagers, sandpipers, and more to come back from their Southern winter homes. So, little American tree sparrow, till next winter!