Franklin’s Gull at Steveston

After learning that a Franklin’s Gull had been present in the Steveston area of Richmond for at least a few days I decided to make a detour on my way to Iona last Saturday (30 Oct) in an attempt to locate it. I had dipped on an earlier sighting of this species at Maplewood Conservation Area in July so I was quite eager to get a second chance at a look at this particularly beautiful gull.

The bird had been reported in the vicinity of a fish and chips restaurant called Pajo’s at Garry Point Park. It’s been a few years since I’d eaten here but I do recall a large number of gulls pestering me and the other patrons for a handout so it seemed like a decent spot for a gull to try and make a living. I arrived at the gravel lot just in front of the restaurant not long after sunrise; it was closed and from the vantage point of my vehicle there wasn’t a Franklin’s Gull in sight. After I’d finished drinking my morning tea the thought occurred to me that I should step outside and see what was going on behind me; lo and behold the bird was there! It was hanging out with a couple of Ring-billed Gulls in the center of the lot occasionally resting but spending most of its time preening.

In Canada this species breeds in the freshwater marshes of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (1). In B.C. breeding was suspected, but not confirmed, in the eastern part of the province during the 1980’s but so far the B.C. Breeding Bird Atlas has only recorded “possible” instances of breeding in the Peace River region (i.e. species observed in breeding season in suitable nesting habitat) (2). During winter the majority of the population can be found along the Pacific coast of South America (1).

I wasn’t the only one to see this bird over the weekend: Rick Wright made it out later on that same day and Paul has posted some excellent shots of the bird from the 31st on the Birding in BC forums.

References:

  1. Burger, Joanna and Michael Gochfeld. 2009. Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipixcan), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/116doi:10.2173/bna.116
  2. Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dawe, I. M. Cowan, J. N. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser, and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The birds of British Columbia. Vol. 2. Royal British Columbia Mus. Victoria.
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