Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gluttonous Gull

It shouldn't come as any surprise just what gulls are prepared to eat, especially when they're feeding on rubbish tips. I watched and photographed this Kelp Gull recently on Lauderdale Canal as it 'fished'.
I had noted that , what I'm sure was the same gull, was always at the same spot at the same time on several successive mornings
. I stopped one morning, actually hoping to get better shots of the Little Egret that's been around,
and photographed this gull while I waited. It seemed interested in the New Zealand Cushion Sea Star Patiriella regularis that it's pictured holding. This sea star is an invader from New Zealand and considered a pest. It picked it up several times and dropped it, seemingly hoping that this would make it more manageable. This was followed by pecking, until having made no impression on it, the sea star was swallowed whole, temporarily changing the gulls outline, as you can see in the middle shot. Quite a feat. If only gulls could make some impression on the much more invasive Northern Pacific Sea Star..... Both these sea stars have made major impacts on related native species, especially in the River Derwent.
Shortly afterwards it started to "foot paddle". That is the rapid up and do
wn, on the spot, foot movement, in this case in about 6 or 7 cms of water. This action, which stirs up the bottom, is utilised by gulls and waders to expose prey. It appeared very successful at whatever it was catching, but as it caught the prey by totally submerging its head, it took a while to see what it was after. I took numerous shots that showed little or nothing, but eventually got the lower shot. I'll have to admit here that although I can see the prey, I'm not at all sure what it is. I think it's what I know as a sand eel, but this covers a large range of possibilities. So if there's anyone who recognises what it is, I would be interested to know. And yes, I did eventually get my shots of the Little Egret.

1 comment:

John & Shirley Tongue said...

As you say, Alan,
I'm not surprised at ANYTHING a kelp Gull would try to eat! Thankfully, they are far less common in the north of the state than down your way.

We are heading to Hobart this afternoon, and back tonight, so will have to keep an eye our for interesting birds (and try to get some pics) on the way.