Black-legged Kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
These small gulls nest on cliff ledges in the subarctic; they winter at sea along the Pacific Coast extending as far south as Mexico,
mostly seen well offshore; the wintering adult shown above and below was a rare photo-op from land, as it flew over the busy Santa
Cruz Wharf in March of 2007.
Almost exactly ten years later, March 2017, I had my second opportunity; this time
substantial numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes were sighted along the Central California
coast during a stormy winter, and I caught up with a small flock at Pescadero Beach.
Above, a flying adult in non-breeding plumage, similar to the birds I photographed a decade
Two non-breeding adults on a large rock visible from Pescadero Beach.
Perched birds non-breeding adults; descending bird first winter, with dark collar. Same first winter bird shown below; wings
have molted to adult, where juvenile would show striking black and gray pattern seen at bottom of page, but juvenile dark collar still present. Bill shows greenish-yellow of adult.
First winter bird flying in front of three Brown Pelicans.
While photographing the Heermann's Gull perched on the rock, I had a Black-legged Kittiwake
still in striking black and gray patterned juvenal plumage black bill fly across behind, captured
out of focus. Someday I'll take a focused picture of a juvenile!