Posted by: atowhee | August 4, 2009

Point Reyes gallery and mystery gull


I know mystery gulls are a hackneyed part of our birders’ folklore.  But this one really caught my eye.  Knowing full-well it could not be either a Ross’s nor an Ivory, such a white gull was hard to overlook on the tan and brown sands of Point Reyes.  I tried to pretend I didn’t noitce this bird, but the camera insisted on taking some images.  So the torture begins: what is this gull?  Perhaps a leucistic bookend?  A ghostly doorstop dropped from an anchored yacht and blown ashore? Another piece of styrofoam flotsam?

IMG_9057At least the beak shape eliminates some of the smaller gull species like Mew and Bonaparte’s.   Cearly one of the fouryear gulls.   Look at the slope of that forehead.  And for scale, here’s a pic with a Ring-billed Gull nearby.  This gull was a full size larger than the RB.


IMG_9058Anybody care to hazard a guess on species or hybrid mix of this pale Pt. Reyes gull?  Want to see the bird for yourself, it hangs out on the beach just at the end of the Limantour Road, near the humans enjoying the sand there.




 ACWO PAIR 8-3-09acwo pair stareMy Illinois companions were impressed by the Acorn Woodpeckers.  Their communal lifestyle.  The laughter ringing down from the treetops. At one point four of them shared this spar, watching us on the ground below.  The acorn tree.  One hole per acorn.  These guys are the original “takes a village” types plus they are clearly locavores.  Eat local, that’s their style.  Not the sort of solitary woodpeckers you find back in the staid Midwest.



SEMIPALM PLOVERMy first Semipalmated Plover of the migration season.  This lone bird was along the inland tidal pool at Drake’s Beach.  He didn’t stay around long after this photo. Think of the bird as a streamlined Killdeer, smaller chasis and only one stripe, not two.       THE MAMMALSIMG_9060IMG_9061

The elk herd on Pierce Point has outgrown its territopry so there are now elk along the road to Limantour Beach.  That’s where I saw this small herd.  While the deer we saw were mostly on the outer Peninsula near the Lighthouse, like this guy:Yng Buck

The list of wild mammals we saw: black-tailed jackrabbit, bush rabbit, California ground squirrel, California sealions, coyote, elk, harbor porpoise pod cavorting near Chimney Rock, harbor seal, mule deer.  There were no elephant seals this time of year.  The seals and sealions were most numerous along the base of the cliffs near the Lighthouse.

Here’s a link to the Pt. Reyes Harrier blog.   Here’s a link to puffins and checklist for Pt. Reyes trip.         GALLERY   

IMG_9088Gumplant blooming near Lighthouse.CHIMNEY ROCK VU  Below, view from Chimney Rock toward Drake’s Beach and Sir Francis Drake’s white cliffs of “Nova Albion.”









VIEW OF CHIMNEY RKLooking at Chimney Rock from Drake’s Beach Cafe deck.









IMG_9115Bob and Emily Rogers looking  out on the marsh at Limantour Estero.IMG_9118  At right are the Snowy Egret and Willets they were watching.


LIGHTHOUSE VUView from the Pt. Reyes Headlands near the Lighthouse looking back northeast toward the mouth of Tomales Bay and the Marin/Sonoma mainland.

 The exotic iceplant has largely been defeated. Native plants blooming on the dunes: lupine and gumplant.


  1. […] Newport, Oregon in 2011. Very similar-looking birds were also photographed at Point Reyes in 2009, and Santa Barbara in 2005 (both these latter posts never volunteered […]

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