Gulls from the back of a ferry
Last weekend I was leading a field trip for the Carolina Bird Club winter meeting in Southport. The birders in my group had spent the day up and down the southern coast, from Wrightsville beach to Fort Fisher, picking up some great species for the state, including Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, and Common Goldeneye. The last leg of the trip involved a short ferry ride across the mouth of the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher back to Southport. North Carolina, by virtue of its extensive inhabited barrier islands, has a superlative ferry system; inexpensive, punctual, and generally very birdy.
As we set out across the river a group of gulls, no doubt checking the passengers milling around on the deck for spare bits of breaded goods, began to follow us. The sun was setting ahead of the boat as we passed, and the light was just perfect. I was busy leading all day and scarcely had time to pull out my camera but I could resist the opportunity here, at the very end of the day, to give it a shot. They may have been only Ring-billed Gulls, but they were pretty amazing in the light.
And lest you believe they were only Ring-bills, a single Laughing Gull followed the boat too. In the not to distant past these were considered a very good find in the winter, but they’re nothing special anymore.
At the Southport terminal, the gulls were joined by a pair of swooping and diving Forster’s Terns, who were more difficult to nail down what with their fancy flying and all, but I got one I was happy with.
Good light makes any bird interesting.