Stop and take a closer look


Yellow-footed Gull, Larus livens

All photographers have done it.   We happen on an easy photographic subject, so we shoot it.   The subject was not something specific which we needed for our collection or had always wanted to see and photograph.   Nor was it displaying any courting rituals or in some unusual habitat or in any particularly spectacular light or protecting and raising it’s young.   No, in this case, it was a gull on a dock post.   Who hasn’t seen that?

Well, certainly any good bird photographer has.   And of all the gulls we photograph, how many of us never identify the species?   Oh, it’s just another gull.   Well, not today, this is no ordinary Herring or Western Gull, this one is a Yellow-footed Gull, Larus livens.   Once considered a sub-species of Western Gull, they are now defined as a distinct species.   According to the American Birding Association, they are a class 2 bird, limited in number or range, which is normally the Gulf of California in Mexico or southern California.   So my sighting of this one near Monterey Bay is pretty unusual.   But of course I did not know that when I photographed the bird, it was only when I tried to identify it after the fact did I find out, it was a rather rare bird.

So sometimes it does pay to stop and take that closer look.