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I didn’t go to The Gull Frolic this year. I decided not to when the invitations went out to Illinois Ornithological Society members last November. I was then looking forward to my trip to San Blas and the thought of coming back to stand on the lakefront in freezing temperatures after spending the early part of January in warm and sunny Mexico did not appeal to me. And anyway, my head was still full of images of Great Black-backed Gulls I had seen in New Brunswick and Grand Manan.

So this post features some of the Great Black-backeds and other species seen as we made our way from St. John to Grand Manan by ferry.

The photo below is actually a small section of a larger image. I was trying to focus on the White-Winged Scoters we were seeing from quite a distance. Or as Ann has now corrected me, they were Black Guillemots! We had some Scoters too. But this is sometimes the problem with processing photos half a year or more later.

Black Guillemots

More of the White-Winged Scoters. Oh they’re not, let’s fix this right now. They are Black Guillemots. I don’t know what happened to the Scoter. Maybe it’s in the third photograph on top — how far away we were at one point…

White-Winged Scoters

More Great Black-backed Gulls – and there’s likely a few Herring Gulls in the group shot, but it’s more like a warmer version of a Gull Frolic.

These Red-Necked Grebes were distant but delightful nonetheless.

Sooty Shearwaters don’t photograph particularly well at a distance.

A glimpse of a rugged landscape.

Great Shearwaters were abundant and easier to photograph than the Harbor Seals in the first two photographs below.

I thought this post needed a little color.

A few more Great Black-Backed Gulls.

Some of that lovely rugged stuff that grows on rock.

And an adult Herring Gull.

I will be back with the other half of this day’s photos. The focus will be on land birds. It took me a week to process the 740-or-so images on my recalcitrant pokey travel laptop. But I guess these days I can’t complain about how long it takes me to do anything.

Pictures for Peanuts

The Peanut Gallery

I went down to the lakefront this morning because after days of stormy clouds and 60 mph winds this was the only day of predicted sunshine. Sunshine was in abundance, at first glistening off the water by the yacht club with no birds in sight.

South of the Yacht Club

Flying Crow

But that changed within a minute or two of my arrival. Of course the Crow Crowd was following me. Carrying my camera in one hand and the bag of goodies hanging off the other arm isn’t ideal but I thought it might be a good day for flight pictures.

Fuzzy Crow

I’m calling this crow Fuzzy because his head feathers are so brush-like. Maybe this is a bad hair day for a crow but I think he’s pretty cute.


A friendly Horned Grebe surfaced close to the sidewalk shore.

Horned Grebe

Farther out I spotted the Red-Necked Grebe, a less-frequent visitor.

Red-Necked Grebe

And a Red-Breasted Merganser took off to catch up with her buddies.

Female Red-Breasted Merganser

Eventually a Black-Capped Chickadee will come for peanuts too.

my little Chickadee

I sometimes shell the peanuts for them if they’re fast and sneaky enough to make off with the goods before the larger birds come back. But I caught this Chickadee shelling his own peanut a few days ago. It was almost as big as he is.

White-Wing flying

When I got up to the park this morning, the White-Winged Crow youngster was showing off her caching abilities.