A friend called Tuesday afternoon and suggested we go hunting for two rare seagulls that had been reported in our area--a Glaucous and Thayer's (sounds like a gull law firm!), so off we went after I got home.
We arrived at the creek (the modern cemented version) that outflows to the ocean. There is a raised mudflat during low tide and it is a well-know gull loafing area. We found the Thayer's, but the Glaucous eluded us.
We did see all manner of other interesting birds though:
- Western Gull (both adults & immature)
- Ring-billed Gull
- Green-winged Teal (many pairs)
- Great Blue Heron (3 adults and one immature)
- Great Egret (5)
- Snowy Egret (5)
- Semipalmated Sandpiper (15)
- Willett (3)
- White-throated Swift (6)
- Yellow-rumped Warbler (2 in the eucalyptus tree along the bike path
We also found an injured Royal Tern. A couple nearby said they had removed a fish hook and some fishing line from around its neck. It didn't look too good, and obviously was on its way out. My birding partner took it home to try and save it, but it died early that night. She voluteers at the natural history museum skinning birds, so she will take it there and it will become part of the museum's collection. A sad fate for the poor bird, but it was better than leaving it there to die alone and become carrion (in my opinion--others will probably disagree).
From that tragedy I snatched a creative moment though; I spent some time learning more about Royal Terns and decided to start sketching and painting them, as they are lovely-looking birds. My first watercolor try is above. I've been locating photos to get details of their anatomy and coloration, which is a fun process. Probably the most interesting fact about Royal Terns (and is probably true for other tern speicies as well) is that within days of hatching, the young collect in a big mass of chicks called a creche. The parents manage to find their own chicks to feed amongst all the others by their cries. Quite a feat when you realize this is a group of hundreds of chicks!