During the day, Long Beach is more of a playground than it is a habitat. As I sat by myself as day turned into evening, however, and as the tide began to recede, gulls started to arrive. Not the ratty scavenger gulls of picnic grounds, but maritime gulls pecking at mollusks– and even those of the black-headed variety.
I spoke in an earlier post about how seeing Buffle Heads on the East River transports me, for a brief moment, to the arctic tundras where they spend their summers. These Black Headed gulls also, belong mostly further north. Their North American range is described as being as “far south as Long Island” and they also breed “from southern Greenland through most of Europe and central Asia to Kamchatka and northeast China”. It is still amazing to me with birds, how they can travel so many miles and end up anywhere: at a fountain on a campus or at a crowded Long Island beach. There is something humbling about this, about how they have chosen this tiny patch of our world, out of so many other potential sites.
In the photo below, a gull shows off his plumage to a group of beach-goers. I was the only one watching.