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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Following the birds

If you grow up fishing, with an eye on the birds to show you where the fish are, will there always be something inside of you watching out of the corner of your eye for bird activity?  

I grew up lobstering on the East Coast, but if there were a lot of birds feeding nearby, sometimes my dad would let us follow the birds and go fishing for stripers or bluefish for the day instead.

On 21 June, a flock of Western Gulls caught my eye.  And I couldn't help wondering what they were being drawn to. They were finding something on the beach.

Curiosity got the best of me and I went down to see if I could find out what they were eating.  This is what I discovered in the wrack line (next image).  Can you tell what they are?

It turns out that the gulls were after krill.  I collected a few and took some quick photos under the microscope for the record.  (The third image is a close-up of the eye.)

You may recall that I photographed ravens eating krill on the beach in March (review that post here).  It looks like this is a different species of krill.

Later in the day we went back to see if the gulls and krill were still there.  Sure enough, the gulls were still picking through the seaweed looking for krill.  The Western Gulls had now been joined by a few Heermann's Gulls (see below).  

Many of the krill that had washed ashore earlier in the day were now dried, but the gulls still seemed interested.

If you follow the birds, you never know what you'll find!

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