At least three rare gulls were spotted in the Esquimalt Lagoon this summer.
Ann Nightingale, a volunteer with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory, said a Lesser Black-backed Gull, normally seen in the east, a Franklin’s gull and seven Sabine’s gulls – usually seen over open ocean– were all spotted at Esquimalt Lagoon.
“The thing about gulls this time of year is they’re all about the food, breeding season is over and they will be where the food is,” she said.
Nightingale explains that while some parts of Greater Victoria may be seeing a decline in the number of gulls, some areas have seen “literally thousands and thousands of gulls,” such as the Esquimalt Lagoon.
“There are certain types of birders who like nothing better than to sit among thousands of gulls and go through them one by one,” said Nightingale. “I’m the type that runs out after someone else has found a rare gull and try to relocate it.”
Nightingale tried to find the three rare gulls at Esquimalt Lagoon but had no luck. She also tried to find another rare bird that was spotted in up Island this year. Mark Wyjan spotted an adult red-legged kittiwake on Sept. 27 on the shore at Deep Bay, near Bowser – only the second confirmed sighting of this type of gull in the province.
“I didn’t get anywhere close to the kittiwake,” she said. “It was only there for 10 to 15 minutes and I was three hours away.”
According to Nightingale, there’s a category in birding called listing, which involves keeping a list of all the birds you’ve seen either by year or by place. The project eBird Canada, described as a “citizen science project,” documents bird sightings around the world, along with posting photos and sounds of the birds.
According to eBird, Esquimalt Lagoon is a hot spot for birding with almost 250 species being spotted there year-round.
“Seeing a bird you’ve never seen before – we call those lifers because it’s the first time you’ve seen it in your life and people do run out to see those,” she said.
The most common type of gull spotted in Greater Victoria is called the glaucous-winged gull, a large stocky bird with frosty gray wingtips that are only slightly darker than it’s back colour.
As more birds are migrating at this time of year, Nightingale said it’s a good time to get into birding and recommends checking out Esquimalt Lagoon and the surrounding area, along with Uplands Park of Clover Point.