Great successful story.
What do chips do for a gull's stomach?
Sent from my iPhone
On Aug 17, 2016, at 8:40 PM, Tyler Pockette <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
After Jim and Ted's report of a Little Gull at Charlotte Town Beach this
afternoon, I headed up in hopes the bird would still be there and be close
enough to shore that I could get a photo that would be acceptable for my
photo big year (a task that can be very difficult at this location because
the birds tend to hang out WAY offshore). I was disappointed upon arrival
to hear that the Little Gull had not been seen in a while, and lighting
conditions were rapidly declining as the sun got lower.
Luckily, I had taken my kayak with me as a last resort option if I needed
to get a closer approach to obtain a photo. Even more luckily, I had
stopped at the gas station on the way to buy a bag of chips so I could get
$6 cash back to pay for the parking at the beach. I could see a flock of
about 30 Bonaparte's Gulls loafing on the water in the midst of the sun's
reflection about a mile offshore, so I decided to throw the kayak in the
water and paddle blindly in hopes of relocating the flock on the off chance
that the Little Gull was hiding somewhere among them.
I made it to the area where I thought the birds had been when I left land
but could not see any gulls on the water. A couple of Ring-billed Gulls
passed by so I decided my last effort would be to rile up a some action by
getting the Ring-bills to feed on some chips. I started tossing chips into
the water and they dove down to me. I tried mimicking their squawks as loud
as I could to draw attention from any other gulls nearby. It only took a
few moments before I could see gulls heading my way from every direction
around me. Within a minute, I had about a dozen Ring-billed Gulls and just
as many Bonaparte's Gulls circling and diving around me, with many more
gulls on their way towards me in the distance. That's when the Little Gull
came in. I immediately noticed its small size and then the dark underwings.
It was a gorgeous adult in breeding plumage that circled my kayak several
times, coming as close as 20 feet. It was actually too close, as it's very
difficult to maneuver a kayak in circles while trying to photograph a fast
moving bird in flight. I really wish I had brought more chips out with me,
because it didn't take long for the gulls to clean me out, get bored, and
return to their lazy floating. I imagine an active feeding flock like that
must look pretty enticing to a passing Jaeger...
On the way home I also encountered my first Common Nighthawk of the year in
Little Gull and Common Nighthawk were birds #231 and 232 photographed in VT
for the year. A link to my new photo big year photos: