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.