[CT Birds] Fwd: Do gulls feed on insects on wing?

Niall Doherty doherty.ns at gmail.com
Tue Sep 20 13:22:14 EDT 2016


A few years ago, I was on a fly-fishing trip to Moosehead lake in Maine. We
saw a cloud of gulls picking something off the surface of the lake and
catching something in the air above the surface of the lake. There were
also some swirls in the water made by fish taking something on the surface.
It looked very much like the "blitzes" that occur in salt water when
schools of bait fish are pushed to the surface, and even leaping into the
air, by striped bass or bluefish attacking them from below, while gulls and
terns attack them from above.

However, it could not have been bait fish responsible for this blitz since
however desperate they were they could not have got 20 feet into the air
where some gulls were catching them.

When we noticed action closer to shore we could see that the 'bait" was a
large mayfly known as the green drake,* Ephemera guttulata* (
http://www.troutnut.com/specimen/771). They were being taken by land-locked
Atlantic salmon and gulls as they struggled at the surface to emerge from
the nymphal form and taken by the gulls once they finally became airborne.

Fortunately we had some flies that were a reasonable approximation of the
green drake and managed to catch a few of the salmon, without catching any
of the gulls. I am ashamed to say I was so excited about the salmon I did
not notice what species of gull it was.

Niall

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stuart Winquist via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Date: Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 7:53 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Do gulls feed on insects on wing?
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org


When I left work tonight in East Hartford, I noticed 50-100 gulls flying in
all directions across an area 1/2 to 1 square miles in size,  all around
the same altitude.  They were all beating in fairly straight lines and then
would lurch in a slightly different direction.  As I was driving I would
try to watch a single gull as long as possible and it sure looked like some
of them were grabbing insects.  I've never noticed this before.  Wish I had
my binocs for a better look.

Sent from my iPhone

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Niall Doherty
doherty.ns at gmail.com
Home: 860-535-8376
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