Bay update: Return of Dippy the Gull

Arrival of Dippy the Gull OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_2013 IMG_2021 IMG_2026 IMG_2032 IMG_2033 IMG_2034There is always something new and exciting to view with regard to marine-life on and around the beaches and waters of Alert Bay. Various bird species have been flying in and spending time, some moving off with others staying, among them increasing numbers of Gulls, Pacific and Common Loons, Pelagic Cormorants and an adult Double Crested Cormorant. In recent days, gulls and crows arrive early each morning with the tide being low to snack on krill that has washed up on the beach overnight; some mornings 60+ gulls have been counted feeding in one small specific area of beach. We have been keeping a watchful eye out for Dippy, an adult Glaucous-winged Gull who has spent the last two winters in the Bay, in particular directly out in front of where we live. The first time that Dippy caught our attention initially was in October 2011 when we noticed with dismay an adult gull with its tongue protruding through a slit in its throat. We continued to observe his visit through fall and winter and would watch closely when he came to drink regularly at the water bowl that we had left out for birds to drink from. In March 2012, Dippy departed along with most other gulls, we assumed to breed and nest and were delighted when he returned again last mid October. The pattern has continued into 2013 with his departure this year on March 23 and yesterday at 5:45 p.m., a gull hovering outside our kitchen window caught our attention and there he was! It was a real thrill to see him again and he was soon at the water bowl drinking, his tongue appears slightly more rolled and he is looking older in his winter plumage. This morning he was here again briefly but disappeared to feed and it will be interesting for us to watch as he adjusts to living back in the Bay again for the coming winter months. Also seen in the Bay since summer, a smaller species gull that we believe to be a California Gull (named Cali), its tongue also protrudes through its throat. We have come to the conclusion that this may be the result of gulls getting caught at the throat by fishing lures that are subsequently removed and the resulting tearing of tissues at the throat creates a slit that not having time to heal, the gull’s tongue passes through and is then unable to be retracted. Thankfully the two gulls that we have witnessed so far, appear to be in good health and are not encumbered while feeding. The sunset photo was taken last evening while the Gill Net boat photo’s were taken in the early light this morning when some boats returned to the Bay ahead of the gillnet fishing closure today.

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