Sunday, January 08, 2006

California Gull

Click on photo to enlarge

A small population of California Gulls (Larus californicus) seem to be everpresent around Big Bear Lake, but nowhere near the huge numbers you'll find at their island breeding grounds in Mono Lake and the Great Salt Lake.

The California gull is credited with saving Mormon Pioneers in Utah from starvation in 1848 when swarms of crickets nearly wiped out their food crops until the gulls moved in for a feast, eliminating the pests, and no doubt contributing some fertilizer as well.

With the crickets gone enough of the crops survived to sustain the Mormons and the gulls assumed a revered status in the history of Utah. The event was remembered as 'The Miracle Of The Gulls', and 107 years later, on February 14th, 1955, the California Gull was officially designated the Utah State Bird.

The California Gulls we see here were most likely born at Mono Lake, a most enchanting body of water at the base of the Eastern Sierra, a place every nature lover should visit.

Whenever I see a California Gull I think of Tufa Towers, Brine Shrimp, Alkali Flies, Lee Vining, Lundy Canyon and the monumental achievements of the Mono Lake Committee, founded in 1978 by a few young conservationists dedicated to saving Mono Lake.

The California Gull, like the Coyote, has increased in numbers over the past hundred years, as both species are opportunists that thrive on scavenging the waste and garbage of humans.

Our lake-shore was crowded with tourists this morning as Peggy & I walked there, the gulls milling around with a craving for Cheetos, Doritos, Egg McMuffin scraps, or whatever, so we tossed them some whole-wheat bread crumbs in exchange for a photo-op, and the above is one of the resulting pictures.

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Blogger shaidrules said...

awesome pic jim...keep up the good work

2:28 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Wheat bread may not have tasted as good but it's certainly a far better thing to toss them. Lovely picture.
I always learn so much from you blog, I can throw this one in as well.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Sonia said...

Beautiful photo, as always!

2:47 PM  
Blogger madcapmum said...

That's a neat story behind it being the Utah state bird. I hadn't heard that one before. You got a great shot, too!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Norene said...

What a beautiful photo. I need to get out this weekend with my new camera and give it a whirl, see what it can do.

I'm guilty of feeding a seagull junk food as well. When I lived in Boston, which was a long time ago (as you know), I was on my way home from work one day when I ran into a seagull trying to open up a full box of donuts that was sitting on the sidewalk. I have no idea what a full box of donuts was doing in the middle of the sidewalk, but the bird was so intent on getting into the donut box that I decided to help it out.

Of course the seagull wasn't too crazy about me approaching. Darned human getting in the way. But then I untied the string, opened the lid and walked away, learning that when the seagull had a choice, it preferred powedered sugar.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


Thanks Denny!

the phoenix-

Wheat bread is what they get, I rarely have the other stuff to offer.


your Brazil blog is so beautiful too, and so informitive.


I just learned the story myself.


Thank you so much, as you know, your opinion always means a lot to me, the picture was shot with the tele-photo extender lense attached, in the manual (M) setting, at f 3.5, at a shutter speed of 1/1600th of a second.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Norene said...

it just occurred to me--i don't know how i left you off my blog community list. guess i was thinking of you as family.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Just before Christmas I was walking past the schoolyard, and there was a white thing way out in the expanse of brown mown grass. My pattern-recognizer said "gull," but logic said, "No way would there be a gull out here at this time of year."

I was carrying groceries, but I had to find out, so I walked way out there and found a white pigeon, standing in the brown grass, watching me. I have no idea what it was doing there.

That reminds me, I heard that a whole lot of homing pigeons went missing recently...

11:45 AM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

That is so beautiful. I am green with envy. What a spectacular photo!

7:42 PM  

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