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Monday, November 21, 2016

Surface-dipping


On the way back from the post office today, I noticed this young Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) feeding along the shoreline near Gaffney Point in Bodega Harbor.  

While walking or swimming, the gull searched and then dipped its bill below the surface to pick up small prey items.  Here's another view of it actively searching for prey:



There were about a dozen Red Phalaropes in the same area, also surface-dipping for small food items:



All of the birds were so busy feeding that I became curious about what type of prey they were after.  I walked down to the water's edge and scanned for a clue.  There were hundreds of small crustaceans swimming just below the surface!  I picked up a nearby clam shell and scooped up one of the mystery animals to see what it was:


I think both the Bonaparte's Gull and the Red Phalaropes were actively feeding on small amphipods.  [There are two amphipods in the photo above; perhaps a male holding a female?]

The afternoon light was nice, providing wonderful views, so here are two more pictures of the Bonaparte's Gull:




Although the amphipods were small (most were less than 1 cm long), they must have been worth the effort!
 

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