This afternoon while watching the cricket on television my wife called to me from the garden. A flock of about 20 birds were circling in the air above our five acre property here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. I quickly grabbed my binoculars and headed outside.
For the next ten minutes or so the loose flock of Silver Gulls soared on the breeze over head, circling around many times. They kept this up mostly silently with just an occasional soft contact call – nothing like their normal raucous, far reaching cry which is a quite familiar call. The whole time they stayed overhead near the shed, circling constantly over about a fifty metre radius. I am quite puzzled as to what they were up to. Perhaps they were feeding on flying insects but I couldn’t see exactly what they were doing, despite being able to observe individuals as they flew. Strange.
Silver Gulls are widespread throughout Australia and are very common along the entire coastline, along river courses, around lakes, dams, reservoirs, swamps and any suitable habitat and are usually associated with water, but not always. We are about five kilometres from the River Murray but we have some fly over our property every month of so, sometimes in large flocks of 50 to 100, usually quite high in the sky. This is the first time I can recall them coming so close to the ground; the flock stayed about 5-10 metres above the ground at all times.
I know that Silver gulls are very common throughout Australia, but I must admit that I always enjoy taking photos of them. Generally, they are not at all afraid of humans (except for those over-active little versions who insist on chasing them), so they are usually very easy photographic subjects to practice on. On my recent visit to the local Sturt Reserve I managed several acceptable shots of some of the gulls, as shown here on this post today.
Silver Gulls, despite often acting as garbage disposal units on beaches, river banks and picnic areas, are quite beautiful birds in my view. They have such clean lines and pure colours. I usually forget their scavenging habits and concentrate on the positive aspects of their appearance.
Over the last week I shown a series of photos of Silver Gulls. This is the last in that series. For the photographer gulls are often a very good subject for learning the skills of bird photography. Gulls are often quite confiding; you just have to produce some food – like chips – and you will soon have more subjects for your camera lens than you can cope with. On this occasion I didn’t need any food. I didn’t want large numbers of gulls. They were content to stay just a few metres away and let me snap away happily.
As with all photography, shooting birds requires appropriate lighting conditions. It was late afternoon – about an hour before sunset. The sun was almost directly behind me which was good – apart from needing to watch where my shadow fell.
Overall, I am very pleased with the result. I’m still trying to get that elusive stunning shot of a gull in flight. Gulls are ideal subjects for that too. I’ll just need to be patient.
These Silver Gulls posed in a wonderful way for my camera two weekends ago. I was on the beach at Encounter Bay at Victor Harbor on the south coast of South Australia. It was late in the afternoon, about an hour before sunset. I think this one is worth printing and mounting in a frame. I just love the clean colours of mature birds like this.