Laurel Creek C.A. 24 October 2010
David M. Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman
There was a large aggregation of waterfowl on the lake, so we went down to check out whether there were any interesting species, other than the normal ubiquitous and numerous Canada Geese and Mallards. By scanning through the flocks we were able to locate a pair of Pintails, a male Shoveler and a female Common Merganser. Other than a lone Pied-billed Grebe there was not much else.
The annual ritual of drawing down the water level in the fall by the conservation authority was underway, and there was an expansive area of mud with isolated pools of standing water. In these areas hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were feeding on crustaceans and fishes which had been stranded by the receding water. It appeared that many of the gulls were already sated by the bounty, since they were picking up fishes, half-heartedly tossing them around, and letting them drop back into the water without any attempt to retrieve them. One individual, however, must have been a latecomer to the feast. We watched this bird seize a crayfish, batter it against the ground repeatedly, drop it, pick it up and repeat the same process, until the crayfish was subdued, and there was no longer a danger from its pincers. In one gulp the crayfish was gone!
The pictures show the sequence of this feeding event, from the crayfish in the gull’s bill, to half way down it’s throat, to a contented gull standing digesting its meal.