Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Did you know that -- different sea gulls inland at Lake Spring Park

    The other week we explored "Lake Spring Park" in Salem (VA) and found the newspaper article we read about it to be somewhat correct -- it is at least partly overrun with birds in its two in town ponds, and there are bird droppings you'll want to avoid on part of the paved walkway around the water at Lake Spring. But I don't think the droppings are mostly from Canada geese. It was overwhelmingly populated with sea gulls, hundreds of miles from the ocean!
    Why were they there? Good question. And they seemed to be everywhere, overwhelming the geese and mallards in the water when we decided to toss our cheddar flavored popcorn at them. They really annoyed the heck out of the other birds with their high pitched screeching and aggressive dive bombing around the ducks to catch even a sliver of food. There must have been at least 50 gulls and man, were they pushy!
     And they weren't the usual ones we see migrate this way this time of year. They were ring-billed sea gulls. These gulls are a little smaller than the typical herring gull you see at the beach. It looks like they had someone paint a thin black stripe near the tip of their slightly smaller beaks. Though they did have gray on their backs, there were also some with speckled heads and backs, and legs and feet that were pinkish or grayish, instead of yellow. My Audubon guides says the speckled one are immature; there must have been as many "youngsters" as mature ring-billed sea gulls.
      A few years ago we camped near the bottom of North Carolina, and took a ferry toward South Carolina and Myrtle Beach. On land we spied these black-headed sea gulls scurrying about us for food. It seems nature wants to always provide some type of variety in species. After all, variety is the spice of life.
    We ran out of popcorn and found the walk around Lake Spring Park rather short, so we drove a bit more and picnicked at Longwood Park. This was before our recent snow, and I hope we get back to springlike weather real soon!

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