The first fall I spent on the houseboat in 2007 I had an amazing encounter with Bonaparte's gulls right off my front porch in September. A couple of photos can be seen here. At the time, I thought maybe it would be a regular occurrence, but I hadn't seen it again until this week. Three Bonaparte's gulls - one adult and two immatures - spent some time flying around the marina and foraging on bait fish. There were a lot of fish around, attracting not only the Bonaparte's gulls but also harbor seals, a belted kingfisher, a mew gull, and a couple of glaucous-winged gulls.
Bonaparte's gulls are probably my favorite gull species to watch. They look so tiny, just half the size of our most common glaucous-winged gull, and appear very buoyant in flight. Sometimes during the spring and fall migration I've encountered flocks of hundreds or even thousands of them, an impressive sight, particularly when they're actively foraging. It was just as neat, however, to have a close up look at these three gulls this week, again right off my front porch.
One fun aspect of photographing wildlife in action is you get to pick up certain things off still photographs that happen to fast to witness when watching live action. For instance, I was surprised at just how far underwater these gulls went when diving for fish - they're not considered diving birds, but they almost completely disappear under the surface! Just part of one wing is visible here, on the left in the middle of the splash:
November is probably about the latest in the year I've seen Bonaparte's gull in the San Juans. It was very cool, and now that I know these close encounters at the marina don't happen all that often, I was especially excited by it!