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I was standing at the water’s edge watching the sun’s first rays color the sand when I heard a screaming flock of gulls further down the beach. I watched as they swirled and swooped low to the sand.
Curious, I ambled down the beach in their direction. Always fascinated by what gifts the tide brings in the night; I was looking down as I walked. I stopped short when I saw the first tiny fish, its silvered scales catching the light.
I followed the glistening line of fish; the beach was littered with them. The gulls were eating what must have been a large school of fish the was caught in the tide and washed ashore. I have no idea what they were. The largest was about 2 inches and the smallest about an inch. Most of them were pale to translucent. A few were sandy colored. The loose flock of gulls was having a field day.
I love being outdoors and watching bird behavior, you just never know what you are going to see.
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On a birding boat ride on the bay (huh, how do you like that?) during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird festival a Bald Eagle threw all these Black-legged Kittiwakes into a swirling cloud around Bird Rock. It was a sight to behold!
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Can we talk about gulls for a moment? I know some birders eschew them, won’t even look at them, call them names like sea rats, G-U-11s, but, truth be told, …shhhh…I sorta like them. Maybe it’s because growing up in the flat land, we didn’t have any. Or they are a visual reminder of the sea. I like their brashness, their insistence, their laugh, their size. Yes, they are frustratingly confusing. Yes, they have a several year maturity rate so there are lots of in-between plumage variations. Yes, they loaf around garbage dumps and shopping center parking lots, the tops of lamp posts on the Tappan Zee Bridge and oddly enough even at the beach. I am by no means an expert in picking out the juveniles but the adults are not that difficult. With closed eyes the call of a Laughing Gull always and forever will remind of the Jersey Shore.
My favorite gull (is it terrible having favorites?) is the Heermann’s Gull from California. I love the soft ombré
of their fashionable plumage, going from white through shades of gray, ending with tidy black stockings. And the red beak, what a color, as red as the best lipstick. I think they are absolutely the most beautiful.