Monday, December 19, 2011

Not so Rare "Greater Black-backed Gull"

I purchased a new lens (new to me anyways) last week, and got to try it out at lunch today heading to Princess Point in Coote's Paradise and swing along the Bay Front Trail, heading a short ways towards Bay Front Park.  It was a gray day, but saw quite a few "firsts for me" birds.  What variety in Creation.

I also think my new found hobby got the better of me today... I posted on OntBirds (a birding list where you can post finds of uncommon or seasonally unusual birds) that I had sighted, what I thought was, an uncommon bird - turns out not. One person pointed out to me already that it's not really rare in this area, so, oops! ;)  I had thought I had seen on the blog of another popular birder in the area that it was.  I checked back and I had misread it.  Another kind birder on the list pointed out that I had likely identified the bird correctly as a greater black-backed gull, but that it wasn't male and female but likely one adult and the other in "one of the first to third year plumages".  (Thanks Bob!)

Here are the photos anyways.  Amongst other ducks in the background, these gulls stood out clearly as they are much bigger than what seems to be common Ring-billed gulls we're used to seeing here.

Greater Black-backed Gull  (adult and 1st to third year)

The older one seemed to be trying to break something apart, possibly eating something?  This was a fully zoomed in shot, and my tripod is getting a missing part made (thanks to my brother who's a machinist!), so it's not the clearest picture.

Greater Black-backed Gull eating something?

Some interesting facts I found from reading around on the net: Greater Black-backed Gulls are less like the
rest of the gull family, and act not so much like scavengers but more like a raptor. They will hunt down young water birds and capture them, corner smaller birds and catch them, or steal recent catch from lesser birds. Since they don't have talons or sharp beaks like the raptors they act like, they'll resort to blunt force in killing their prey, or shaking it to snap it's neck, pushing the bird under water and drowning it, or just holding it till it succumbs to exhaustion.

I hope to post some more of my shots from this jaunt in the near future.  I just thought I'd get my "humble pie" out of the way first! :)

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