Franklin’s Gulls ~ Feeding Frenzy

Last year while I was camping and photographing at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge I saw a feeding frenzy that involved Franklin’s and California Gulls in the flooded grasses and Sagebrush flats near the Lower Lake.

Foraging Franklin's GullsForaging Franklin’s Gulls – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There were hundreds of breeding plumage Franklin’s Gulls (Larus pipixcan) in the field hovering, wading in the standing water and foraging. I still don’t know what it was they were feasting on.

Hovering Franklin's Gull Hovering Franklin’s Gull – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

None of my images from that day show prey in the bill so my thoughts are that there could have been an insect hatch or perhaps there were tadpoles in the flooded flats. I should have gotten out of the pickup and scanned the water to see what the prey was.

The photo above shows the rosy pink wash that Franklin’s Gull have on their chest and belly when they are in breeding plumage.  This is actually in the feather structure there, not “on” them.

Franklin's Gull in flightFranklin’s Gull in flight – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/200, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 200mm, natural light

I hope to see and photograph another feeding frenzy with the Franklin’s Gulls, if I do I will do my best to find out what prey item causes it.


For more information on why I love Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge click here.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Beautiful, exciting shots, Mia. I love that background. :-)

  2. The Franklin’s Gulls are beautiful; I love the rosy-colored chest. I love the gorgeous background! Your photos offer a really unique view of the gulls as most gull photos I see are photographed near the beach or ocean. Very well done.

  3. These pics are great! Beautiful is definitely the right word!!

  4. These are absolutely beautiful images, Mia! So pretty against the blowing grasses. I’m glad you pointed out the rosy blush on the belly and chest. Just lovely.

  5. The colors are so beautiful, terrific work Mia!

  6. Very nice!! Love the close up one!

  7. excellent work as always, loved the atmospherics. I used to shoot a lot in B & W ( remember that) and spent hours walking around when it looked good for brooding clouds on the landscape. I was influenced by Catier Bresson and of course Ansel Adams.

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