Who’s Squawking Now?


Here’s a loooooong clip from this morning’s beach walk.

First you see a willet hanging out with what I’m reasonably convinced were a couple of noisy American Herring Gulls (Larus smithsonianus, for those into taxonomy).

The gulls are in their winter plumage.

One has a sand flea in his beak, and the other one is walking slightly ahead of it, but does not appear for some reason to be trying to snatch the morsel away.

Herring or Ring-bill

Herring or Ring-bill

You can’t really make out the red spot on their lower mandible, which is famously distinctive to the species. I wish I could spot it on this still frame of the vid, to be certain.  Looks awfully similar to the ring-bill, but there seem to be subtle differences, despite the similarity of the black subterminal mark on their bills.  I’ll just have to go back and get conclusive proof of that red spot.

At any rate, as one of them chows down the sand flea, the other makes a show of trying to shake out something edible in rotting sea weed.

Meanwhile, the willet realizes the gulls are not the sharing type, and turns back to the lapping waves to find his own brunch.

Suddenly the gull shrieking intensifies.  At first I think it has to do with their annoyance at my intruding on their territory. This is, after all, their home.

Mr. Thinks Himself

Normally, though, this does not happen. In fact there’s a ring-billed gull that follows me around from time to time.  He seems to like to strike poses and have his picture taken.  I’ve decided to name him Mr. Thinks Himself.

Just like that, a nearby flock of sandpipers fly off — a sure sign something’s up.

The seagull shrieking intensifies, and the seagulls split up.  I follow one of them around for a few seconds, and then I catch the shadow in the sky swooping over us.

Sure enough, it’s Ozzie (or perhaps one of his friends:  I actually saw five ospreys circling around each other today in a kind of graceful, slow-moving, aerial ballet.  Here’s a blurry screen grab of three doing a Vol de trois).

Ozzie quickly fades into the distance, but is soon followed by some other shore birds overhead:  a couple of large seagulls, another osprey, and then a frigate bird flying high above.

The putative herring gulls are not happy about any of this.

To top it all off, a helicopter puts in an unwelcome guest appearance; I guess there is no other way to get to Stuart airport through what  is largely empty airspace except to fly directly over a bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge.

And so it goes:  another mini beach drama just unfolded, almost unnoticed.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the herring gull bar code, which I found by chance on the Encyclopedia of Life’s website.

Wouldn’t it make a cool needlepoint belt?!

herring gull barcode

herring gull bar code

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

2 responses »

  1. Thanks Mary Ellen– I’m glad you like it. Sometimes a habitat like the Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge appears as if not much is going on, but, with patience, it’s clearly observable that a lot of subtle stuff is happening!

  2. Love these posts from the refuge!!! Thank you!!! Cheers!!! Mary Ellen

    Sent from my iPhone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s