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.
With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:
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.
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.
It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.
Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.
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.
However, they were fun to watch and gulls are great practice for in-flight bird photography due to their relatively slow speed and predictability.
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.
They dropped in and lifted out of the water with ease and flew in tandem as they moved up the beach.