Two Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) at different stages of life, one is an adult in breeding plumage, the other an immature gull in flight.

Adult Herring Gull in breeding plumageAdult Herring Gull in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 300mm, natural light

An exposed sandbar, soft morning light and the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the background were the perfect setting for this adult Herring Gull in breeding plumage. When I saw this bird from the water after coming around a clump of mangroves I just knew I ached for the opportunity to photograph it so I had to be careful not to alarm the gull or risk scaring it away.

My approach was slow & low, on my knees in the shallows, pausing to allow the bird to adjust to my presence and then creeping forward again. When I got within range I was able to lay down in the water with my elbows braced on the sandy bottom to keep my gear up and out of the gentle waves. Was my cautious approach, getting soaked to the skin and having sand creep into my pants, top and water shoes worth it? I think so.

1st summer Herring GullImmature Herring Gull in flight – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 210mm, natural light

I was standing up when I photographed this immature Herring Gull which allowed me to turn as I tracked it in flight. I think this is a 1st summer bird but I am not absolutely positive. If anyone knows for sure, please feel free to correct me.

An interesting fact: Herring Gulls live at least 35 years.



  1. Carol Mattingly June 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Your tenacity pays off all the time. Beautiful. Carol

    • Mia McPherson June 10, 2012 at 6:18 am

      Thanks Carol, in breeding plumage these gulls are beautiful. Even when not in breeding plumage.

  2. Beverly Everson June 2, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Beautifully done, as always!

    • Mia McPherson June 10, 2012 at 6:18 am

      Thank you very much Beverly!

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