Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ring-Billed Gulls At Sunset

It happens every late fall; large flocks of ring-billed gulls stop over on the nearby lake, on their way to their winter digs on the Gulf. In the clear evenings, just after the sun has settled behind the west ridge, leaving our little valley in dusk, these gulls fly up the valley, then just as they reach our garden at the head of this valley, they wheel to the east and pick up speed and disappear behind the woods. As they are coming up the valley, they are rising and therefore flying rather slowly and are shadowy in the late evening sky. However, when they turn overhead, their snow white underside is turned to the sun, lights up with the orange, setting sun's rays, and the bird plunges to the darkening east as if on fire. This display goes on for an hour or more; I've never known whether the gulls are headed someplace specific, or whether they are just doing it for the joy of it. I'd say five hundred gulls pass over us; of course it could just be fifty gulls going around in a big circle over and over rather than my imagined enormous flock of five hundred; I'm pretty gullible...
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I wondered what those were. I've seen them here the last two falls as well. I couldn't figure out why they were here, then I got unstupid and said MIGRATION. Sheesh. Very cool to watch.
Benjamin... I suppose you're on the Missouri River flyway, which drains all of the Dakotas and Prairie Provinces.
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