Painting 199. Bonaparte's Gull at Cowan Lake, Field Sketch 2
A small flock of Ring-billed Gulls and Bonaparte's Gulls were flying and fishing across the lake when we pulled into the parking lot by the dam. A Common Loon and Pied-billed Grebe were swimming and diving too. We hoped they would come in closer, but they had other ideas. Bonaparte's Gulls are so polite and refined...and cute! I loved watching them fish. This was the first time Matty and I had ever driven up to Cowan Lake, and we're definitely going back...
November is a good time to see Bonaparte's Gulls in our area. They are migrating through and will spend some time at the larger lakes. Since they are not scavengers like other gulls, you usually get to see them doing a lot of fishing.
Yikes! What kind of photo is this? It's bad, but you can still pick out the identifying field marks for a Bonaparte's Gull in non-breeding plumage—the black spot behind its eye and the cute, cute, red-orange legs!
...same for this photo....bad, but the bird is so cute, and I wanted to show how easily it is to see the spot behind the eye. We were at the dam and the birds were fishing far across on the other side of the Cowan Lake. Good thing I had my paints to capture the moment, because the camera wasn't up to it!
In addition to the gulls, we saw lots of other birds, including a very sweet mixed flock of Brown Creepers, White-breatsed Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, and Carolina Chickadees. We were sitting on a ridge on the Lotus Cove nature trail looking out on the large American Lotus colony (now withered and brown) when the flock descended. The Brown Creepers were first, their tiny peeps and musical chatter caught our attention, and we watched as they went from tree to tree, starting low and spiraling up through the branches.