Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Gull's Misadventure

This afternoon I was sitting here fuming because I had hoped to go out to Branched Oak Lake, but instead was waiting for several return calls. It finally dawned in on me that the reason you have a cell phone is so you don't have to sit at home waiting for phone calls. The dawg gave me a woeful look when it was obvious I was getting ready to go yet again. She has been left home alone far too much, far too often in recent days, and she has been letting me know in the ways that dawgs do that she isn't pleased. So I took her along.

It was a very windy afternoon and once we were on our way I wasn't really sure how good the birding would be because of the wind, but on we went.

I had been sitting in one area for awhile. There was a small group of Canada Geese, a couple of Killdeer, and lots and lots of gulls. The gulls were mainly in the air, but there were some bobbing on the lake. I had the scope on the window mount to check out the ones on the lake. I was alternately looking through that and through the binoculars at the ones in the air hoping to find a Sabine's Gull. The reports on the Nebraska birdline have been of juveniles. I decided to move on and as I flipped a u-turn in the parking lot I saw a gull walking along. At first I thought I had my Sabine's, but alas it was not to be!

larger image

I think it is either a Herring or Ring-billed Gull.

The gull continued to walk for quite a stretch, which I thought was a bit strange. After I got a few photos, I studied it through first the binoculars and then the scope. I determined it wasn't a Sabine's. Eventually it mixed with some other gulls that had just landed on the shoreline near the Canada Geese. All of a sudden the geese and other gulls scattered and my gull of interest was left by him/herself. About that time the dawg decided she wanted a drink of water, so my attention was diverted briefly. When I looked back, it looked,to the bare eye, like the bird was trying to fly, but having difficulty getting out of the shallow water. When I looked through the scope I realized that I was witnessing a murder! A Peregrine Falcon had the gull in its clutches and the gull was probably already a goner by the time I looked through the scope.

I am not usually a fan of the survival of the fittest thing. But I sat there absolutely mesmerized watching through the scope. Kind of gruesome, but the wind was blowing the feathers as the falcon plucked them. I found it interesting that the geese that had scattered, wandered back near the falcon with it's meal and so did the Killdeer. I guess once you are out of danger there's no need to be shy.

1 comment:

Larry said...

My wife once told me how disgusted she was that a Sharpie had grabbed a bird and was systematically plucking it's feathers. She watched the whole thing through binoculars totally mesmerised.-It's hard to look away.-Nature is awesome!