“I got the bird” Dave Brown exclaimed. Time froze. Like in a Nike commercial where Michael Jordan takes the entire 30 seconds to begin his leap, literally climb through the air defying gravity and then dunk the basketball over hapless Patrick Ewing while you watch each bead of sweat float off Michael’s brow! We’ve just spent the first six hours today driving between the two open water bathing holes and the recently melted grassy slope above the lake. Over and over and over again. We spent the last three hours yesterday doing the same thing. It was more than a little tedious. In fact the ONLY reason it was even bearable was that we were looking at gulls. Thirteen species of gull so far –this would be fourteen and another megararity.
Quidi Vidi Lake is the place in St. John’s you go to watch gulls. I filmed here in late Feb of 2006 for the Large Gulls of North America DVD and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wasn’t looking for a single indivdual. Today there were thousands of gulls. To scan through. Carefully because the mantle color is just a shade darker than herring or Iceland. Earlier I’d spotted the adult Slaty-backed once again, this time closer affording a better view. It’s a powerful looking gull with a deep chest and bubblegum pink legs, slightly larger than the Herring Gulls that surrounded it, but it’s darker mantle stood out.
My addiction to gull watching began in Ohio. Every weekend Larry Rosche and I would drive to Eastlake and Headlands SP to scan through tens of thousands of Ring-billeds and Herrings for rarities. God, Larry was good! He could pull a loan Black-headed Gull out of a thousand Bonaparte’s quicker than Houdini pulled rabbits out of his hat. If not for Larry, I’d never have produced the video series in the first place.
But now my thoughts returned to the moment. Was Dave correct? He certainly was a crazed larophile and he had found the Slaty-backed yesterday tucked away, but I was hesitant. I raised my binos in the direction he was looking and bingo. Even though it was a North American lifer, I’d seen and filmed a dozen of them in France. No doubt about it, it was an adult Yellow-legged Gull.
Tomorrow was now free to try for the Redwing. Could we pull our own rabbit out of the hat? Stay tuned.