I Wish They All Could Be California Gulls

I thought when entering June things would start slowing down a bit. Wow, was I wrong. Somehow forgot all the work that has to go into the homestead this time of year. Time is being devoured battling the forest as it continuously plots to revenge our incursion, grass growing way to fast thanks to the barrage of rain (apologies to the dry southwest), a Mole army that could repel a Russian invasion and those hell spawn Chipmunks that I swear breed daily (where are all the Owls). Doesn’t Mother Nature know that I have to focus on the new Halloween props for the fast approaching Haunted Trail (link here)!?! Oh well, shouldn’t complain, far better than having to get all these tasks done and still go to work every day.

California Gull found at Virginia Lake Park in Reno, NV on our trip there May 2019

The good news is I have had some opportunity to bird. Although I still have not updated the Birding Chronicles (link here), …. wait, stop the presses, will be back in a jiffy (imagine the Jeopardy theme tune playing in your head)…just a bit longer… a few more seconds… there, back. Sorry about that. I have probably noted that the Chronicles had not been updated for like a month if not more. Inner Bri demanded I simply update it ha! Feeling hypocritical due to how much I curse at IDOT for taking the time to have a sign made and send out a 4 person crew to install said sign to inform motorists there’s a bump in the road – FIX IT!!!. The latest stats have our “Average Year” progress for Ron at 219 (note, he added 3 more this week) and I am sitting at 249 for unique species this year. Quite shocked really as there are still plenty of easy targets left and a number of good birding trips planned between now and the end of the year (not to mention 2 seasonal changes remaining). Need to have Ron update the video with our latest excursions.

California Gull found at Virginia Lake Park in Reno, NV on our trip there May 2019

Hit the jump to read more about the bird from where “the girls get so tanned”.

Today, thought I would feature a bird that is ineligible for inclusion in this year’s unique species quest, but does represent a new lifer for me. Counting just the 32 new lifers this year and a multitude still to be processed, that should put my potential life count minimally around 338 – I say potential as I can’t take the tick until they are featured here, so lots of work remaining on that front as well.

California Gull found at Virginia Lake Park in Reno, NV on our trip there May 2019

With this post I can officially add the California Gull to the list. Not eligible for this year’s count as it was taken back in May 2019. We had the opportunity to attend our nephew’s wedding in Lake Tahoe at that time and flew into Reno, NV to make our way there. Added a few days to the itinerary for birding to see if I could tin some western birds. On the list of key targets was the White-Headed Woodpecker (link here), Western Tanager (link here) and Mountain Chickadee (link here), but the California Gull was a complete surprise.

California Gull found at Virginia Lake Park in Reno, NV on our trip there May 2019

Now, one reason for that is I rarely focus on Gulls and you probably noticed very few of them ever get featured here. Simple really – THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE! Unfortunate enough to tin a solo juvenile – might as well bend over like Kevin Bacon and have your ass smacked by a frat paddle. Every turn of the Gull reference book – “is that the Gull?”, smack, “thank you sir, may I have another?”, turn page, “wait, is that the Gull?”, smack, “thank you sir, may I have another?”, turn page, “ugh, that looks like it as well”, smack, … you get the picture. I managed to get a bit lucky on this one as someone who was at Virginia Lake Park at the same time reported this species (25 of them specifically) and one other that I knew wasn’t it as it lacked the bill marking.

California Gull found at Virginia Lake Park in Reno, NV on our trip there May 2019

Checked the region maps, past ebird reports and a few comparisons on Cornell’s site to confirm not a Ringed or a Herring. Also did a final check with Ron to see if he agreed. Note, this is probably a second year specimen with the bluish legs and still has some mottled brown in the wing/back feathering.

Eesh, out of shots, better get to some interesting facts before letting you go. The California name is a bit restrictive as they do spend their nonbreeding days on the west coast, but they will migrate inland (primarily northeast into Canada and bordering states. If you look close on the map, you will see a small year long area circling the Reno, Lake Tahoe area. Now this is an odd one – the California Gull is the state bird of, wait for it.. wait for it.. Utah. According to Cornell, these birds saved the Mormon crops from a plague of Katydids back in 1848. Lastly (also from Cornell), the young Gulls hone their ninja midair hunting skills by dropping sticks in flight and “swooping down to catch it” – rumor has it their sensei also makes them put wax on and take wax off their cars.

Will call it a post there, need to get back to work. Hope you enjoyed the latest addition to my life list.

30 thoughts on “I Wish They All Could Be California Gulls”

  1. Amazing shots! Really liked the graduated lighting.
    Also amazing that where you and I live there are so many of their cousins so far from any large body of water.

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    1. Thank you Brad! Yep, all you need to do is find yourself a Walmart and will see all the Gulls you ever really want to see ha. Although, we do have the Illinois River which I’m sure is the initial draw and then they assuredly branch out from there – the EP Walmart is full of ’em hehehe. Thanks for dropping in!

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    1. I know, I know – reason I am sooooo reluctant to feature them here, but I needed the tick for my lifer count! I have this rather heavy and honestly quite beautiful book on IDing Gulls sitting on the desk right next to me. Every time I find a Gull in digital darkroom I pull it out and start thumbing through it … then get absolutely frustrated and move the image to “deal with later” folder (right next to “another damn Sparrow folder) and move on. I’ll have something more exciting for the next post…or not..ha. Appreciate you dropping in B!

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    1. French Gulls!!! .. can’t beat that…although admittedly they do look like our Gulls when they take off their tiny berets. Must say, the in flight one with the caption “¡Hasta la vista Baby!” is terrific. Thanks for the links.

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    1. Ha, that’s the same line Linda always uses whenever we see one in the field…well, more accurately when we see a flock of them in the field. She also uses “just keep swimming” and “fishy fishy” but that doesn’t come as much in my bird outings. Loved your bridge muncher post Vic!

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      1. I’d forgotten about “just keep swimming.” 😆

        Thanks. That bridge…hm… Been there since the 40s & accidents once a month, on average. You’d think it would be “known” & avoided like the plague. *facepalm*

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    1. Thank you Cheryl, glad you enjoyed them. They are actually a pretty cool bird in moderation – problem is they are like a marauding horde these days and god forbid if you try to each a french fry in a Walmart parking lot hehehe. Appreciate you dropping in Cheryl and have a great rest of your week – we’ve entered the sauna season here.

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  2. Good to have my Monday morning coffee in Ely, MN reading about California gulls.😊 Gulls that saved the Morman’s… where did you find that fact? Is that why it is the State Bird of Utah?

    I know where we are at we could use any bird that eats mosquitoes!!!😳😬 Even this MN gal is thinking it is the worst I have ever experienced.

    Don’t work too hard.😂🤣

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    1. Say hello to Ely for us and give the Wolves at the center a cheery howl. Cornell’s website mentioned the Utah tidbit – had no idea that was their state bird nor why on earth they would pick a bird with another state in the title (yes, the bird was recognized for saving their crops) – something new every day! Wow, if someone FROM Minnesota thinks it is bad then holy cow, going to be sure and pack cases of Repel when we go up there in a little over a month. Hopefully the other side of the pond isn’t just making you soft ha. Unfortunately, I need to stay on top of the homestead work – if the balance tips it is nearly impossible to recover before falls comes. Thanks for dropping in and for the laughs in your latest post.

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    1. hahahahaha – if was stuck in my brain as well, so thought I would share the misery! Thankfully I didn’t mention the Peaches song by the Presidents of the United States. .. Movin’ to the country, I’m gonna eat a lot of peaches…Millions of peaches, peaches for me… you’ll hate me later. Thanks for coming by Sandra, note, I’d avoid Yellowstone on your back.

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      1. Good thing I don’t know the peach tune. Yes, we are just west of Yellowstone and will be traveling along Int 90 which runs all along the Yellowstone River also. So I hope the interstate isn’t washed out anywhere. We were is a winter storm watch at my brother’s. We just left there today.

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    1. Thank you Reed. Generally, not the most sought after family of birds, but this one was pretty cute and was quite accommodating while I was getting it in the tin. Appreciate you coming by and for the “tubes” information.

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  3. How nice to find such a nice blog! Looking forward to reviewing your past posts and to keep up with your new adventures.

    Gulls are the Sparrows of coast lines!

    Very nice portraits of the California Girl — errr – — Gull.

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    1. Welcome to the blog Wally (and Gini)! Hope you enjoy my musing – warning, I generally do not take myself to serious – life can get stressful if you don’t take the time to have a good laugh from time to time. Right with you on the Sparrow comment. As I mentioned to B! above, I have a really good Gull ID book an arms length away, but like the Sparrow, you can get yourself down a long, windy, dangerous hole once you start down that path. Will be taking in your past posts as well as soon as I get caught up here – loved your Hummingbird Clearwing shots – they are so cool looking with their short plump bodies and their bunny ear like antenna. Glad you could join us!

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    1. That was a new tidbit for me as well – most people consider them a nuisance, not a symbol for a state ha! I would be a lot easier to ID these Gulls if we could just get them to wear a different kind of hat! Appreciate you dropping in and have a great week.

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  4. I’m on the road, so just catching up with your posts. Gulls have the last laugh – folks stand at the bulkhead on the ferry, offering snacks to 3-5 gulls, so excited to see birds up close. Those 3-5 scouts then call in their friends, and within minutes you can’t see the sky for the squawking dive-bombing bodies. Great backgrounds in these photos – thanks for sharing!

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    1. I learned my lesson mean a year ago on the Port Aransas Ferry. I was one of those clueless people that thought I’d offer this lone Gull a piece of bread I had handy – MISTAKE!
      Next thing I’ve reliving The Birds with white and grey birds instead of black ones! Was lucky enough to get an angle on this specimen that kept most of the clutter out of the background. Be safe during your travels – are we going to get see some bird tins from this excursion!?!

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  5. Hey, Brian, this last month has been too busy for me as well. It sucks when life’s demands dominate! Great post & pics. Makes me think of the Two & a Half Men episode where Jake started feeding the gulls from his bedroom window and wound up with a horde of them in his room! (Uncle Charlie was beyond pissed!) I hope some fun relaxation is in the cards for you soon! 🌞

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    1. Howdy Lisa! I had all these visions of having too much time on my hands (even with my large lists of hobbies and interests) and as of now I can barely keep my head above water ha! Someone did point out in another post that it may look like we are busier, but the time is being taken up by things we enjoy doing more… after thinking on that a bit and writing up a list of my current time eaters, I’ve decided he was absolutely right. I love that episode of Two & a Half Men – someone knew those damn Gulls before they put that episode together ha! I still have some things to settle with my mom’s possessions, but once that is over with (fingers crossed this month) and I’ll be able to get focused on funner things (running, Halloween prop building, birding etc.). Always appreciate when you drop in and join the conversation.

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