WEGUs in March – here they are confiding, easy to admire, and “much that is good…”
The Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) is the”typical” large, white-headed gull of the west coast of the US. Seen at most beaches, but rarely inland (except at the Salton Sea), this is more of an obligate “sea” gull than other gulls. They breed on offshore islands during the summer, and the Farallones constitute an important breeding location for them. They are the most obvious island resident due to their numbers and their character. Here, a brilliant quote from one of California’s earliest naturalists – William Leon Dawson.
Much that is good and all that is evil has gathered itself up into the Western Gull. He is rather the handsomest of the blue-mantled Laridae, for the depth of color in the mantle, in sharp contrast with the snowy plumage of back and breast, gives him an appearance of sturdiness and quality which is not easily dispelled by subsequent knowledge of the black heart within. As a scavanger, the Western Gull is impeccable. Wielding the besom of hunger, he and his kind sweep the beaches clean and purge the water-front of all pollution. But a scavanger is not necessarily a good citizen. Call him a ghoul, rather, for the Western Gull is cruel of beak and bottomless of maw. Pity, with him, is a thing unknown; and when one of their own comrades dies, these feathered jackals fall upon him without compunction, a veritable Leichnamveranderungsgebrauchsgesellschaft. If he thus mistreats his own kind, be assured that this gull asks only two questions of any other living thing: First, ‘Am I hungry?’ (Ans., ‘Yes,’) Second, ‘Can I get away with it?’ (Ans., ‘I’ll try.’)
[…]Nothing in the life of the Farallons [sic] is more striking than the rapacity of the gulls and their determination to profit by any excitement which will frighten the peasantry.
Posted in adventure, birding, Birds, California, ecology, Farallon Islands, Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, Farallones, field camp, field work, fieldwork, gull, ornithology, outdoors, seabirds, Uncategorized
Tagged biology, birding, birds, conservation, Farallon Islands, Farallones, fieldwork, gulls, islands, larophile, marine biology, ornithology, Point Blue Conservation Science, seabirds, south east farallon island
Winter trip to see what waterfowl were around the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. We went on this trip much later than we have in the past – mid-January versus our usual mid-December trip.
We found information online (on the Fish & Wildlife website) that the main road would be closed until 1 pm, pretty much every winter Saturday and Sunday, for waterfowl hunts. This was news to me! So we left a little later than normally and arrived at the refuge around 12:30 pm. It was still a 3.5 hour drive from North Topsail Island – a tedious drive but worth it, and one I definitely wanted to do since we did not get to go last winter.
Starting this list over halfway into the year is not ideal, but I’ve been keeping a running tally of new year birds written on scraps of paper and random noteboooks here and there. So this list will be updated as I find all the little lists and compile them here! I am sure to be missing a few species here and there, unfortunately, but that’s the impetus for making sure I get it right come 2014.
Starting off 2012 with a few days in Poland (not any real birding there, though) and a great trip to Lake Mattamuskeet.
Posted in Bird Lists, birding, Birds, ducks, field work, Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina, Poland, songbirds, travel, waterfowl
Tagged bird lists
We went a little later than normal for the winter birding season at Lake Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge, near Swan Quarter, NC. This is a popular birding hotspot due to its importance as an Atlantic Flyway stopover for many wintering waterfowl. Tucked away in a remote (think: no cell reception) section of eastern coastal North Carolina, Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural-turned-man-made lake in the state, at 40,000 surface acres. It is a very shallow lake at an average depth of 3 feet. Lake Mattamuskeet is also very popular among duck hunters and fishermen.
To visit Lake Mattamuskeet, you have got to have some plan of where you want to birdwatch, as the Refuge itself is not very “user-friendly”. It lacks clearly marked trails, information boards, or rangers, although this year it has shown some progress in attempts at development towards naturalists. Late December and early January are probably the best times to visit, and you will be rewarded with sights of abundant tundra swans, snow geese (one of the only places to see them in the area), and many other varied duck species…especially if its been a cold winter.
This winter proved to be rather mild, and therefore there were not as many waterfowl as when I first visited the Lake in 2007 – which was a cold winter, and birds covered the lake. The tundra swans could be heard honking from far away.
Still always worth a visit every winter, below the jump here is our species list from Sunday, January 8th, 2012: