While waiting for a possible return for a second feeding of the night by the White-tailed Kite yesterday Stratford Point visitors were treated to another entertaining sight in the form of gulls catching bugs. The phenomenon is not new to me, but it is to many people who do not live in coastal areas, or frequent certain spots when it often occurs in the late summer or early fall. Essentially hundreds or even thousands of gulls took to the air like swallows to devour insects flying over our heads at Stratford Point and Short Beach. At first, I thought something had spooked up a group at Short Beach - maybe someone feeding them or a raptor - until they stayed in the air. It was obvious feeding time was on as they ascended at Stratford Point as well.
We could see the seemingly limitless insects in the air against the sunlight. Plenty of sand flies and other nasty bugs were biting us as well. The gulls were primarily Ring-billed, though a fair number of Laughing Gulls and some Herring Gulls also participated. This went on for over an hour and lead to some great photographic possibilities, which you can see below. Thank you to our friends Townsend P. Dickinson and Scott A. Vincent! I do not know what the insects were. If anyone has a definitive answer please comment on it for us. The last photo is your prototypical bug catcher, Barn Swallows. We had many there today in place of the gulls.
And that White-tailed Kite of ours? As of tonight it is still here...
Photos 1-5 © Townsend P. Dickinson; photos 6-8 © Scott A. Vincent