“Am I nuts!?” flashed through my head as I starred at them, trying to decipher who is who in the group.You’ll never guess what I was doing: trying to identify gulls on the river!!! I used to call them ‘Seagulls’ until a seasoned birder told me, they are called gulls and there is no bird named ‘Seagull’. Yes, I did say, that I felt pretty blasé about them, that they seemed alike and are obnoxiously noisy. All that changed on the day I took a closer, thorough look, noticed their varied differences and slid right smack into the deep water of utter confusing frustration.These 28 species are famous for being tricky to identify, because they are keen on re-inventing entirely new outfits for celebrating their life phases. This makes me crazy! since only the gull’s name remains a constant, while breeding, juvenile, winter stages zoom their bodies through drastic changes.
Just check out their beaks! You’ll be amazed by the different colors & markings they come up with. Plus there is the outcome of their “ let’s have fun” escapades: these species interbreed, which results in mixed up markings. So there I stand, thinking: “ That’s a WESTERN gull, but wait …the head has the wrong color!”, realizing I have much to learn.
On another note: My ongoing angler conversations have been pretty interesting. Asking anglers if they thought “catch & release” harms fish, most of the anglers I interacted with, said it did. Some also abstain from fishing in the San Lorenzo River due to the compromised fish population. A few said that they were not worried about the fish, because the Calif. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) wouldn’t have opened the Steelhead season if there were fish concerns. What you might find fascinating is that CDFW gets 20% of its funding via hunting and fishing license sales. By law, hunting and fishing revenues must be spent on hunting and sport fishing programs, including fish hatcheries and stocking, habitat restoration, wildlife management and education programs. My question is: Does this funding approach really work since fish and wildlife are depleting at rapid rate? Your question “Who is the state protecting…?” might be answered by a new funding source for CDFW in the State annual budget.
gull-ing by the river, jane