I love white-winged gulls. Somewhat irrationally. Gulls are too often considered quite literal trash birds, parking lot spawn, refuse feeders and beach loiterers. But there’s something about a white-winged gull that reminds you how incredible the family can be. I had spent a little bit of time the weekend before looking for an Iceland Gull at Falls Lake, not more than 20 minutes from my house. I had been unsuccessful, despite turning up a Lesser Black-backed Gull which, while being somewhat unusual inland, is merely a turn darker on the gray spectrum from the usual fare.
I tried again on Monday to find the Iceland, a full 36 hours after it had last been seen. I spent a fruitless two hours on the upper arms of Falls Lake, where my beloved Durham County closely abuts the more or less useless to me Granville County much too close for comfort, without finding the gull. On my way back to the car I passed the Ellerbe Creek arm a second time and by chance scoped a small cadre of Ring-billed Gulls on the tip of a peninsula for something, anything, interesting. While focusing my scope a pale ghost flew into view. The wingtips were not immediately apparent, but they seemed awfully pale. “Hello”, I said to myself, “what is this?” (that’s not entirely true, the actual scene ran somewhat more explicit).
The bird perched among the Ring-bills. The wing-tips shone pearly white like the smile of a used car salesman.
I iPhonescoped a few photos, including the one above. Nothing spectacular but a record shot should someone besmirch my reputation by questioning it.
#201 for Durham. #328 for North Carolina. Not a bad day out.