It had been raining all night and all day and it did not look like the rain was about to stop any time soon. So I wrapped up my camera in it’s rain gear, donned a rain jacket and rubber boots and headed to Hawrelak park. There were not many birds around other than the usual suspects in an around the pond. On the well-manicured lawn right by the pond an immature Ring-billed Gull was relaxing. It did not seem bothered by my presence. Although gulls are common they can be notoriously difficult to identify and entire books have been dedicated to telling one gull species from another. Their plumage change as they age and there is a great deal of variation within species and often little variation between species. Hawrelak park usually has a large contingent of Ring-billed Gulls, so it is likely that any gull found in the park is one of those… except that this individual does not look like a typical Ring-billed Gull. Although the bill has black on it, the black ring on the bill is noticeably absent and the rest if the plumage is completely different from a Ring-billed Gull. It turns out that this individual’s plumage and bill is the look that juvenile Ring-billed Gulls sport. The typical look of a Ring-billed Gull is known as the breeding plumage and it takes the gull three years to reach it, with its appearance changing with each fall moult.
Another hot day and another mid-day birding walk, this time in Hawrelak Park. The Ring-billed Gulls were out in full force. We had a picnic lunch in the shade of a tree and as soon as we were done our eating the gulls arrived for their eating. A pair of them were particularly bold as they walk right up to us and scanned our surrounding looking for a morsel to eat. They did manage to find a piece of bread hiding in the lawn only an arms length away from us. Because they were close and the bright mid-day sun they were easy to photograph. I rarely push my P1000 past the 1000 mm mark as the image quality rapidly deteriorates at longer focal lengths. Today, however, with the bright light, the gulls standing still watching our every move I could not resist pushing the focal length up to 1411 mm for a close up mug shot of one of the fellas. It pretty obvious why they are called Ring-billed Gulls. Whatever your opinion is about these opportunistic omnivores they are quite handsome and clever for someone with a bird brain. Any bird that’s can take advantage of humans to improve their own fortunes deserves our respect.