California Gulls on a Clear April Morning

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California Gull PortraitCalifornia Gull Portrait – Nikon D810, f9, 1/2500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I know that California Gulls are “just gulls” and many people think they are trash birds but I like them simply because they are birds and because I think they are beautiful and elegant too. Maybe if they had a hooked beak and talons on their feet people would think differently about them.

Anyway, while photographing Long-billed Curlews, Willets and an out of place Marbled Godwit yesterday on Antelope Island a flock of California Gulls flew in to feast on what appeared to be a grasshopper hatch.

California Gull in breeding plumageCalifornia Gull in breeding plumage – Nikon D810, f9, 1/2500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The California Gulls and the Marbled Godwit came in close and I decided to do some portrait images of the gulls because I like seeing the dark eyes and red orbital ring against the pure white feathers on the gull’s head along with the red gape and the black and red markings on the bill.

California Gull in flight on a clear April MorningCalifornia Gull in flight on a clear April Morning – Nikon D810, f9, 1/2500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was also able to take several flight shots of the gulls as they flew in to feed on the grasshoppers. Not long after the curlews, willets and lone godwit left the gulls lifted off and landed on the dirt road probably to feast on more grasshoppers.

Clear April mornings are perfect for bird photography on Antelope Island. Well, that is if you can stand the biting gnats which are out and biting like there is no tomorrow!

Life is good.


California Gulls are the official State Bird of Utah, see why here


  1. Lori April 25, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I really appreciate your photos. Gulls are graceful, elegant flyers, yet, tenacious and comical. Thanks for your hard work!

  2. Utahbooklover April 23, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I enjoy watching them, usually in flight over my home in Brigham City, not far from the Great Salt Lake. Very good portrait and inflight image of this graceful bird.

  3. Utahbooklover April 23, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Here in Utah the California Gull is respected for saving the Mormon pioneers’ crops, not from grasshoppers but from a related Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) a large insect that can grow to almost 8 cm (3 inches) in length. It lives throughout western North America in rangelands dominated by sagebrush and forbs.

    Despite its name, the Mormon cricket is actually a shieldbacked katydid, not a cricket. Although flightless, the Mormon cricket is capable of traveling up to two kilometers a day in its swarming phase, during which it is a serious agricultural pest and traffic hazard. From Wikipedia. I did see them once at a rest stop on I-80.

  4. Jane Chesebrough April 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I have seen them here with the Ring-billed gulls during migration a few years ago-they are much larger so appreciate seeing them here to review the markings.

  5. Patty Chadwick April 21, 2015 at 6:32 am

    I can only echo Ellie Baby’s comments….wonderful, wonderful portrait of an elegant, clever bird…

  6. Elephant's Child April 21, 2015 at 5:58 am

    How nice that the good that the ‘trash’ bird does has been recognised and the California Gull became Utah’s state bird.
    Trash birds? None that I can think of. Trashy people? Lots. And lots.

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