Posted by: atowhee | December 13, 2022


It’s named “Blue Gill Lake.” Geese, ducks and gulls float there in the dark. As the dawn begins, many of these birds, awaken, muster and then depart. It is in my Christmas Count area so I always try to arrive a half-hour before the official sunrise. This morning it was just before 7:45AM and by then most of the gulls and every living Cackler was gone!

Birding here makes you gullable, leaves a gullatinous glob in the back of your throat, brings to mind that old Calypso tune with the lyric “hill-and-gully-rider, hill-and-gully.” I would propose a new name for the lake: “Blue Gull Lake.” In the dim light around 7:20AM the gray of the glaucous-wings can be construed as grayish blue, and surely they out-number any blue gills that might be in this old gravel quarry. The gulls make lots of noise, but then they are drowned out as hundreds of cacklers take wing at once, all cackling loudly. After the departures, the occasional guttural quacking of a loitering Mallard seems almost soporific.

Altogether this lake before dawn yields about one-fourth of the total individual birds our team’s likely to see during a full day of Christmas Bird Count-ing.

Final shot is of gulls checking over the parking below.


This is the only gull in our garden–ceramic:

Eighteen Mourning Doves in our garden today–a record.


How to differentiate adult from yearling? The adults have an upright ridge of dark feathers on their back between the folded wings:

SALEM CBC AREA #1, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 13, 2022
Checklist Comments:     Blue Gill Lake
12 species

Cackling Goose  1200
Northern Shoveler  3
Mallard  76
Ring-necked Duck  14
Bufflehead  1
Ruddy Duck  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
American Coot  2
Short-billed Gull  30
Ring-billed Gull  45
California Gull  12
Glaucous-winged Gull  240     they spend the night on the lake

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 13, 2022
18 species

Wild Turkey  14
Eurasian Collared-Dove  2
Mourning Dove  18
Northern Flicker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Bushtit  20
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
European Starling  2
House Finch  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
American Goldfinch  X
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  39
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1

On-going die-off of Arctic seabirds–click here.


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