December 11, 2013 1 Comment
I rather like gulls. Not in the biblical sense you understand, I wouldn’t stoop so low, well not with my back I wouldn’t. No I like the plumage variety and the subtleties of shades of grey. Then there are the white winged gulls. Glaucous Gulls, big, imposing, murderous. Iceland gulls, more delicate, friendly of face but still equipped with a bill that could do you damage. That is why I like to take the trouble every now and then to visit them at roost or at rest.
In the winter, the dump at St-Andre near Mirabel is the local go to place. The dump itself is inaccessible but the gulls all like to loaf in the fields to the south and can be watched there at leisure. I dropped in this morning, it was -10°C but the gulls didn’t mind and were all spread out over the rutted terrain making a clear view a challenge. The situation for viewing improves when the snow gets deeper but when they are squatted down in ruts they become a jigsaw puzzle. As it was the nearest birds were easy enough to see and contained several Glaucous Gulls and a couple of Iceland Gulls.
As often happens at this site, one of the regular Bald Eagles took to the air causing general panic amongst everything. Naturally the gulls felt the best way to respond to the threat was to fly around in a big group, thereby reducing the odds of being the eagles’ next meal. I took a number of snaps as the gulls swirled and tried to count the white winged gulls to species level. I came to around 20 Glaucous and eight Iceland as a minimum. I’d have liked longer with the gulls on the floor because I thought there might be a Lesser Black-backed Gull in there and who knows what else but it was not to be.
How many white winged gulls can you see in the photos?
The gulls all went back to the dump after the intervention by the eagle so I was making to leave when a dark-form Rough-legged Hawk came over with a Common Raven on its tail. The raven badgered the hawk all the way across the sky. Mostly the hawk ignored the attention but once, just after the raven had whacked it and a more appropriate response was required, the hawk flipped on its back and gave it the sharp end. The photos below show some of the action. In my defence for the quality of the photos, their little event took place at quite a height.
I’ve created a gallery that can be accessed from the tab on the header. I’ll post photos as I get the time and will eventually have a couple of hundred species up there.