Tag Archives: Bonaparte’s Gull

Young Dolphin and Bonaparte’s Gull

Or Follow The Food

Dolphin can be hard to spot from shore until they break the surface but this Bonaparte’s Gull served as a great marker for me. You can just make out the young Dolphin below and to the left of the bird.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Hovering Over Dolphin

With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Rust, founder of The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (www.lmmn.org), while I was watching the Dolphins in the Kiawah River on March 18. She spends a lot of time monitoring the local Dolphin and shared with me that this behavior goes on regularly and she has wondered if it is the same few Gulls who have figured this out. The Dolphin is a two year old who still stays pretty close to its mother, who was feeding nearby.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

These two had developed an understanding. and if you zoom in on the next image you’ll see the Gull got a fish just as the Dolphin ducked under the water.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

Bonaparte’s Gull vs Forster’s Tern

The Bonaparte’s Gull and Forster’s Tern look a lot alike and I always have to check a reference when I see either. I happened to capture one of each in similar poses during my recent beach visit.

Bonaparte’s Gull Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Feeding

The gull is slightly larger, but when you see them zooming along above the ocean waves that is hard to tell.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

Bonaparte’s Gull In Surf

Watching Bonaparte’s Gulls feed in the ocean surf it was amazing to see how well they timed the waves, lifting out of the water to avoid a crash.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf

Or just bobbing along and riding the crest of a wave.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull Behind Breaking Wave

Sometimes they jump right into the breaking wave, perhaps the fish they want to eat are churned up there. These images capture the gull plus some of the mesmerizing water movement.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf

Bonaparte’s Gulls Feeding

There is not much contrast in these images of a pair of Bonaparte’s Gulls feeding in the ocean surf. The day was dull and the birds coloration mostly matches the water, with only their black wing-tips and orange feet standing out.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

However, they were fun to watch and gulls are great practice for in-flight bird photography due to their relatively slow speed and predictability.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

It was also windy and this pair was expending a tremendous amount of energy for what was small food. Whatever they were catching they quickly swallowed without me seeing it.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

They dropped in and lifted out of the water with ease and flew in tandem as they moved up the beach.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

Myrtle Beach State Park, SC,  3/17/2019