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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day at the beach, plus gull fighting

Today the family decided to head to the beach to enjoy the unseasonably pleasant weather and also do a COASST beached bird survey near Tillamook, Oregon. Before leaving this morning a rare bird alert came in that someone had spotted a female dickcissel near Nehalem, about 25 miles north of Tillamook. On the way out we made the detour to look for it, but the meadow where it had been spotted just hours earlier was empty except for a group of crows and a handful of starlings hanging out in a nearby tree. Too bad, that would have been quite a catch!!

The birding the rest of the day was nothing to write home about - just the expected species and not even many of those. The first reports of tree swallows have been coming in this week, but despite being in some good locations to look for them I didn't spot any. I was really hoping to pick up at least one more year bird, but no such luck today! The beached bird survey didn't turn up any birds, either, but I did find this salmon (I think?) carcass being picked over by a raven and a couple of gulls:

Since I don't have many pictures to share from today, here are the gull fighting photos I took on the last trip to the beach. I'm not sure what got these two western gulls going, but they started by biting on to each other's wings as they circled around one another. Then, one started getting the upperhand, and would flip the other bird over and attempt to pin it to the ground. This continued for several minutes before something disrupted the flock and they all took off. I've seen some pretty vicious-looking bird mating, but that didn't seem like what was going on here. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Next up: I'm heading north! On Monday I'll be going to the San Juan Islands for a visit of a few days before heading to Vancouver to check out a semi-final Olympic hockey game! Internet access will be spotty but I'll try to get an update or two in during the week.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Top left of 1st gull fight pic is Thayers?



Heather said...

The action sequence of the gull fight is really interesting, Monika. That's some serious aggression. Wonder what would have happened if their fight would have been left to play out to its natural end?

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika on 2nd thoughts I'm now pretty sure its another Western Gull.
We've got a documentary programme about Luna one of your Orcas later this week, what is her pod number? - Looking forward to it (BBC2 Wed eve)...had a cat called Luna a few years ago, a right character.



The K said...

You think that they are really fighting? ;-)

Monika said...

Dave - Yeah I'm pretty sure it was just western and California gulls in that flock. Is the documentary Saving Luna? Don't miss it, it's spectacular! His number was L98.

Heather - I too wonder how long it would have gone on and what the outcome would have been!

The K - I'm pretty sure....mating anyway didn't seem to be the immediate goal.