Still on what flies … and floats

If two months ago back at Lake Union my neighborhood consisted basically of geese, nowadays our neighboring docks have been populated by a different crowd. We have seen an increasing amount of seagulls along the way. All the marinas we had stayed until now were full with fishing boats, and I thought that was the magnet for the seagulls. However, we have been sitting at a purely cruisers’ marina for the last two weeks and, again, lots of seagulls around.

Our current neighborhood
Our current neighborhood

 

The last few days these neighbors started catching my attention. Every day, more or less at the same time – late afternoon, they come to the docks carrying mussels on their beaks, and start a ritual of breaking the shells and eating the content inside. Try doing that without hands! They do it on a quite civilized way. Each one of them bringing their own mussel shell. No fighting, no screaming. Just the cyclical tac-tac of the shells being slowly broken into at the dock. Today I took a few pictures – it is quite cool in fact. They first try to break the shell with their beaks. When they can’t, they will take the shell some 20ft up in the air, and drop it on the dock, breaking it upon impact.

Slowly bringing the shell from the rocks ...
Slowly bringing the shell from the rocks …
... then on to the dock ...
… then on to the dock …
... opening a shell with no hands is no easy task ...
… opening a shell with no hands is no easy task …
... but that's when wings come in handy (pun intended). They take the shells some 20ft above the dock and drop them to break upon impact.
… but that’s when wings come in handy (pun intended). They take the shells some 20ft above the dock and drop them to break upon impact.
... voila. Supper is served.
… voila. Supper is served.

 

As I observed their feeding process, a few other things also catch my attention.

First, their plumage. Some of them display a neat grey-white-black plumage, whereas others are brown. My hypothesis being the brown ones are younger – but it could be a gender thing as well. Second, I noticed their feet are pink, and for some reason my mental image of seagulls had their feet yellow.

So I googled it.

There is in fact a number of different types of Seagulls. The ones inhabiting this area are the Western Seagull type, which is most prevalent in California, and have their breeding grounds near the Bay Area – that explains.

The brown ones are the juvenile Seagulls, while the grey-white-black ones are in full adulthood.

A healthy juvenile Western Seagull
A healthy juvenile Western Seagull

 

So, out of curiosity, I checked on photos we took of Seagulls along this trip so far, just to see whether we had seen different types of seagulls. But apparently, they have all been of the same type (which is interesting, given that their main habitat is California):

Western Seagull in Astoria, OR
Western Seagull in Astoria, OR

 

Finally, just to bring things to life a bit further, I browsed our image library searching for pictures of seagulls from elsewhere. The one I could find was from a long time ago. In the Mediterranean. And, bingo, the seagull is different:

Adriana fed this Seagull when we sailed in the Med, some 15 years ago. Note the smaller body, whiter plumage and - yay - yellow feet !
Adriana fed this Seagull when we sailed in the Med, some 15 years ago. Note the smaller body, whiter plumage and – yay – yellow feet !

 

Well, at least I have checked my sanity – there ARE indeed seagulls with yellow feet.

One Reply to “Still on what flies … and floats”

  1. Olá Alex,
    Bem vindo ao mundo dos bird watchers amadores! Essa gaivotinha de pés rosa é diferente mesmo. Todas as nossas brasileiras que conheço tem pés amarelos ou pretos.
    Depois do post fui aos meus guias e só achei uma outra de pés rosa : a pink-footed shearwater que tem capuz cinza e costas cinza- marron e se distribui do Alasca à America do Sul . Prefere oceano aberto. O interessante é que só aparece no meu guia de aves do México!

Leave a Reply