Bonies at the flats

A few days ago I spent the morning at Conejohela Flats, canoing around because the water level was extremely high following the 3 inches of rain we had just received. Generally we spend most of our time scoping the birds out from a blind that is on one of the small islands but now the blind was basically a small island of its own.

Bonaparte’s Gulls

Before I set off though, I had the pleasure of watching several first winter Bonaparte’s Gulls (or bonies) elegantly forage for food right near the dock. I really enjoy these gulls because of their bouyant, tern-like flight. They are not these big bruiser gulls like Herring or Glaucous Gulls that look mean and fly like a cargo plane.

On the contrary, they can float just above the water, gracefully maneuvering to and fro looking for a tasty floating tidbit, and then just as gracefully dive down to nab it. Even without binoculars they were easy to pick out among the Ring-billed Gulls due to their size and different flight mannerisms.

Bonaparte’s Gulls are smaller gulls, and the first cycle birds (just molted out of their juvenile plumage) have distinctive dark stripes on their wings. I also saw several adults later on when I was in the canoe, hence the lack of digiscoped adults.

One interesting thing about Bonaparte’s Gulls is that unlike most other gulls, they usually nest in trees. I would be hard pressed to remember one time when I saw a gull in a tree.