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Monday, May 4, 2015

Taiga bound

I haven't had a chance to post these pictures.  When leaving work on 28 April 2015, I noticed a large flock of Bonaparte's Gulls (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) on the tidal flats near Spud Point.  I stopped to take a few pictures not only because they're so handsome, but also to document the relatively high count.

Most of the gulls were adults in breeding plumage, with all dark hoods.  A smaller number were immature, with white or smudgy gray heads.

Since they were spread out, I couldn't get all of the birds in one photograph.  Here's the most I could fit in one frame.  Do you want to guess how many Bonaparte's Gulls there are in the picture below?  (If you want to try counting yourself, you can access the original full-size photo here.)

It's tough to separate individuals in a couple of spots, but my most consistent count was 89 Bonaparte's Gulls in the image above.  (I counted 94 individuals total on the tidal flats that day.)

Here are two images with other species present for comparison.

With California Gulls:

With Caspian Terns:

And when I was leaving, the Bonaparte's Gulls took off, too, so below is one flight shot:

This is a great time of year to see Bonaparte's Gulls passing by on their way north to breeding grounds in the taiga and boreal forests of Alaska and Canada, so keep an eye out for them when you're at the coast.

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