Sheer quantities of birds have always impressed me. Ask anybody on the Lakeland Christmas Bird Count who hears me raving about the numbers of American White Pelicans at Lake Hancock. So each year, when people post to Birdbrains about the thousands of gulls that come to roost at Daytona Beach Shores, my interest is piqued. Finally this year I went there to see what it was all about. Wow. Gulls and more gulls. Thousands of gulls. I didn’t really try to find the 3-4 rarities that were mixed into the masses of Laughing, Herring, and Ring-billed Gulls. Instead I enjoyed a nice walk on the beach with Rich while I attempted to portray the sheer number of birds…
My first attempt was an iPhone panorama, above. The phone did a great job of showing the pretty clouds in the sky, but it doesn’t convey the number of birds. They lined the shore along the waterline for a good mile, at least.
I did notice this Great Black-backed Gull in the mix. These birds are seen in Florida, but not as often as the other birds there. The last time I saw one of these guys, I was in Maine. (I want to go back!!)
I tried to photograph the blast-offs that would happen each time a jogger got too close to the birds, but I hated the photos. Static shots of birds flying away from me didn’t really convey the feeling of being there. Then a particular Herring Gull called my attention and begged for a head shot.
I knew I brought Rich along for a reason. While I was crawling in the sand to get closer to my bird, my loving hubby was taking incriminating photos of me. Did I mention that it was freezing cold and very windy that day? I’m still shivering thinking about it…
Finally I figured out how to convey the flocks of gulls. With blurs! Static images of birds flying weren’t conveying the numbers, but a slightly blurred image was more pleasing and better gave a feel of being there.
My favorite blur was the one I almost didn’t take. A bunch of kids were running along the beach, carrying bread and running towards the gulls to make them fly. It drives me nuts when people do that. The birds should be able to rest at their home, the beach, without getting bothered by bored kids. I don’t know what made me take the photo, but I snapped a few blurs while the kids ran, and I actually liked the perspective that it lends the shot. The people ground the shot and offer a size comparison to the blast-off. Besides, it makes me feel like I’m actually on the beach.
I’m glad I finally made the trip over to Daytona Beach Shores. Now I know what thousands of gulls look like!