#393 Heermann’s Gull at Balboa Pier

Beth and I had an afternoon to kill in Orange County today after we finally found a decent apartment we could agree on, so at the suggestion of our real estate agent we drove down to Newport Beach to watch the sunset. There were lots of birds at various locations along the beach: Willet, Marbled Godwit, Western Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and the least skittish Snowy Egrets I’ve ever seen:

3 Snowy Egrets perched on pier at sunset

These birds might as well have been Rock Pigeons for all the concern they showed for the people gawking at them from not three meters away.

However for me the real treat was when an unusual dark gull flew by. It was about the size of a Ring-billed Gull (that is, not nearly as big as the Western Gulls) but much darker. Fortunately I got my binoculars on it quickly and there it was: an unmistakable Heermann’s Gull with a dark gray back and a blood-red bill. I wasn’t able to get a photograph of the bird before it has flown off, and it was the only one I saw. However, I’m confident on the ID. It’s a really obvious bird, and there’s nothing else it could possibly be. It’s a lot easier to pick out than distinguishing a Ring-billed Gull from a California Gull, for example.

I’d spent some time looking for this bird further north in San Mateo County last spring but whiffed on it. Sometimes the best birds come when you aren’t even looking.

2 Responses to “#393 Heermann’s Gull at Balboa Pier”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » Starting My Orange County List Says:

    […] I’ve already gotten one life bird in Orange County this year, that was an accident. This morning I took my first semi-serious birding expedition, […]

  2. Mokka mit Schlag » 2008 Birding Retrospective Says:

    […] year really started for me when I visited Irvine in January to look for a place to live and found a Heermann’s Gull at Balboa Pier. I’d looked for this one further north before, and failed. Little did I know then how many […]

Leave a Reply