Social Distancing and the Ring-billed Gull

Spring migration in Iowa is in full swing and new species are showing up daily. The Ring-billed Gulls have been active at Black Hawk Lake Wildlife Management Area in Sac County, IA. They are highly social birds and usually found in large colonies. Apparently, they have not heard of the new social distancing rules. Gulls were constantly landing and taking off, even bumping into one another.

Ring-billed Gull landing amongst other gulls and announcing its arrival. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved

Watching mid-air maneuvers can be quite entertaining. When multiple birds are landing at the same time, these maneuvers are quite important to avoid mid-air collisions.

A Ring-billed Gull switches direction quickly to avoid a mid-air collision. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved

What one gull has, another one wants. When a gull catches a fish and takes flight, there are usually multiple gulls chasing it. Food piracy is quite common. Many times the gull being chased will drop its meal and the pursuing gulls dive and fight for the prize.

The Ring-billed Gull on the left is carrying a fish in its bill. The gull on the right is in hot pursuit to steal a meal. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1600. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved

It is easy to practice social distancing while doing wildlife photography. I don’t think there was one person within ¼ – ½ mile of me the last two mornings. Likely, nobody had been in the vicinity for days, maybe weeks. I was hidden in a blind and the bird activity was non-stop.

I hope all of you are practicing social distancing and taking serious measures to stay safe and healthy during these times of the spreading Covid-19 virus.

10 thoughts on “Social Distancing and the Ring-billed Gull”

  1. Looking great Mr. Stan,
    I have been staying close, some work in Moorehead Park. We put in for one of the Audubon grants and a couple of days ago was notified that we will receive our second Iowa Audubon grant this one for $ 1300.00. I suggested to do a rehap. on our scotch pine area north of the playground. Lots of dead pine trees and is where we see a lot of the Saw-whets.
    Also have several areas to burn this week if all goes well.

    1. Thank you Mr. Saw-whet Owl Whisperer. I have been spending quite a bit of time at Black Hawk Lake Wildlife area lately. There is a lot of activity there and almost no people. Good luck with your burning and pine tree replacement.

  2. Love these photos! You have many gifts and talents, Stan…patience, persistence, and photography…to name 3…lol
    We are safe here. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patricia Eshleman

    Great pics, Stan! Glad you are able to continue your art during these troubling times!

  4. Carol Gronstal

    That gull who’s shrieking his approach could be hollering, “INCOMING!!!”
    All the photos are beautiful and a comforting break. Thank you!

  5. Hello Stan from Lawrence County in Spearfish, SD.
    Beautiful photos to look at while we practice the stay at home orders.
    Good to hear you are doing well and can continue to enjoy your interests and hobbies !
    Hello to South Martha 🙂
    Ann, Bob, Sam, Will

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