Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ring-billed Gull (Goéland à bec cerclé) at the DesJardins Canal (and a few other treats)

11 March 2017

     One of the highlights of my birding year is the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society. It is always a lively meeting with great interaction among bluebird enthusiasts, most times a fine guest speaker, an excellent bucket raffle and a chance to learn new ways to help Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis regain its former abundance in Ontario.
     The lunch break is generally an hour and a half, lots of time to make it down to the DesJardins Canal in Dundas to do a little birding. I was, therefore, happy to eat the sandwich I had brought from home while sitting in the car watching the activity on the water. It was a cold day and I was not dressed for the outdoors so I passed on the walk I would normally take there, doubtless missing a few species.
     On the way down to the canal I saw two Red-tailed Hawks Buteo jamaicensis in a tree, obviously a male and a female judging by the size difference, indicating that courtship has begun. By the time I took my photograph one of the pair had flown off and the second one departed soon afterwards.

    I can readily bring to mind a few of my birding friends who are not especially partial to gulls, but as a family they fascinate me, and many are stunningly beautiful. This fact is certainly borne out by Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis, the most common gull in this part of North America.

     By using the car as a blind it is quite easy to get very close to some of the birds, including this sub adult individual.

     Here is a nice study of an adult and sub adult together.

     While watching the gulls I kept a keen eye on the other comings and goings on the water and was happy to see a group of five American Black Ducks Anas rubipres swim by, purple speculums almost glowing (the picture doesn't do it justice).

     An American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus seemed to be very actively bathing, with a great deal of splashing and immersing itself underwater.

     But perhaps there was a secondary purpose too, for it came up with a tasty morsel.

      My principal target remained Ring-billed Gull and I took far too many photographs!

     My first Killdeer Charadrius vociferus of the year put in an appearance. Soon their familiar cry will fill the air whenever we are in Killdeer habitat.

     And at times three American Tree Sparrows Spizelloides arborea were grubbing around on the ground searching for any morsel they could find.

     But did I mention that I like Ring-billed Gulls? I was very happy indeed to spend a little over an hour with them.

     My appreciation grows with each encounter.


  1. Some amazing pictures of the gulls there! So sharp and close.

  2. I like gulls. Great shots, Killdeer as well!

  3. Nice shots - gulls can be really hard when you are not a 'local' - although I have seen very few in Indonesia. I almost managed to escape both India and Indonesia without stomach problems - but my luck ran out!

    Cheers - Stewart M - In Melbourne, but jet-lagged!

  4. Hi David! .. nice pictures .. Happy week..

  5. Well, perhaps gulls are not my favourite birds either, but they surely have their importance in the ecosystem... and they look beautiful. Still looking forward to taking photos of flying seagulls against the blue sky. :)
    Great photos. Your cold must be gone by now, I hope.

  6. Lovely photos, and they do look like our seagulls.

  7. Only ever seen 1 Ring-billed Gull, in England about 30 years ago.............

  8. Another outstanding post David.loved the Ring- billed gull and nice to see the Juv both together,your American Black Ducks are superb.

  9. Thank you for your lovely photos. I like a lot. Greetings.

  10. Hi David. Was I, by any chance, one of those people you thought of as not partial to gulls? We had a Bonaparte's Gull local to us yesterday, which caused a great deal of excitement amongst the 'listing' birding community. I'm pretty certain that I'd not have been able to distinguish it from that other gulls it was with, so I wasn't remotely interested. If it had been handed to me on a plate, I'd have photographed it - just for the record.

    Now, Killdeer and American Tree Sparrow are a whole different kettle of fish, and the Red-tailed Hawk and American Black Duck too. Howe well you did for a brief lunch break!

    Love to you both - - Richard

    1. Indeed you were one of the Philistines I was thinking of Richard!

  11. Hi David. I for one am happy to look at lots of your Ring-billed Gull pictures. Commonality is of course all relative, and while you may enjoy them every day, here in the UK they are still pretty scarce. It's a species I would like to find on my own local patch which might be difficult as I must admit that in the past after spending many, many hours looking through flocks of gulls, I now find it too time consuming. Dare I say, even boring qas the rewards don't ever justify the effort.

    Still I may get another chance if storm Stella ends up over here. Stay safe.

  12. Hi David, I have never seen a Ringed-billed Gull, I believe we had one not far from us recently however. Super interesting post with some good images, have a good week. John

  13. Hello David, for lots of people Gulls are not a species of interest, also they do not see that there are so many different kinds. That Ring-billed Gull is a beauty. Great captures as well.

  14. Wow!
    Lovely photo's, and the close ups are stunning.

    All the best Jan