[Tweeters] Re: minimizing harassment of Swallow-tail Gull, while possibly taking a boat to see it

John Puschock g_g_allin at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 3 14:18:02 PDT 2017

If the gull stays at this location on the King/Snohomish border, north of Kayu Kayu Ac Park, I would recommend NOT taking a boat to see it. It's been roosting one of the walkway piers that go out to the larger pier that parallels the shoreline. You would have to take the boat under the pier and would likely end up too close to the gulls. Based on what I've read about Swallow-tailed Gulls, it might not mind, but I imagine the other gulls there would flush, which could then flush the Swallow-tailed.

After refinding the gull this morning, a friend and I drove to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park and walked north along the beach to the pier location. At a fairly brisk pace, this took me about 40 minutes, though I did stop to talk to a few people along the way. You'll noticed that there are a fair number of non-birders walking along this stretch of beach. At least ten people, several with dogs, passed this area in about an hour, and none of the gulls seemed concerned about us. I had a spotting scope on the Swallow-tailed for about an hour, and it was sleeping most of the time, though it occasionally preened and walked several feet.

I'm not sure if a large crowd of birders would cause the gulls to react differently, but it appears at least low numbers of humans and dogs isn't a problem. A bigger problem is access to the beach. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is the closest legal access. However, many of the people on the beach were crossing the tracks at several locations. We talked to a local who was walking her dog, and she says she's been crossing them for years. Obviously, this is trespassing and unsafe, but you will see people do this while you are there. The road on the west side of the track just south of Kayu Kayu Ac is mostly private, so again, not legal access to the beach there.

Speaking of boats, I contacted Puget Sound Express, a company that runs whale watching trips out of Edmonds, about chartering a boat, but it would be a minimum of several thousand dollars, which all things considered, probably would be difficult to raise given the uncertain odds of finding the gull. My thought was possibly going out at night and trying to attract it while it is feeding, but that seems like a shot in the dark, pardon the pun. Going out in the day for a "pelagic" would seem pointless considering the bird is nocturnal, though a small boat to run near the shoreline may not be a bad idea if the gull isn't showing at a known location.

John Puschock

Matthews Beach, Seattle
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