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Thursday, November 17, 2011

#44: Heermann's Gull - Fiesta Island, CA

In my previous article, I expressed my disdain for Fiesta Island, its dirty beaches, the incessant jet skis, and those styrofoam coolers the locals were drinking cheap beer out of. We wouldn’t have visited were it not for the promise of birds, and soon enough we weren’t disappointed. Sitting amongst those Western Gulls lay an all-together gaudy bird, dark body and white head, with a comically red bill – none other than a Heermann’s Gull, the coolest gull in these United States.

Before I traveled to San Diego, Heermann’s Gull lay atop my “must-find” list. Around here, I’m relegated to Ring-billeds and Bonaparte’s gulls, nothing you’d really write home about. The promise of a gull that destroys the preconceived notions of subtle mantle and leg coloration became a beautiful reality while looking at this boldly marked bird. At the time, I though perhaps I’d be lucky enough to find one or two, if I looked hard enough. I did not realize the full extent of the situation.

Quite frankly the most ridiculous looking gull. Also, the most awesome looking gull! 

Like their Western Gull cousins, Heermann’s Gull is surprisingly common. Down at Torrey Pines State Park, I found a flock of several dozen, mostly juveniles in a dark gray plumage, but more than a couple looking like a white-headed harlequin in gull’s clothing. The best pic we got ended up being that bird from Fiesta Island, but nary a day went by when we couldn’t see a Heermann’s Gull or two. It’s definitely the coolest gull I’ve ever seen, and one of the coolest gulls in the entire world.

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