30 June 2011

Gull Fly-In at Daytona Beach Shores

The Gull Fly-In, as many locals now call it, takes place every night at Daytona Beach Shores, FL. It's thought to be perhaps the largest congregation of gulls on any beach in the United States. As many as 30,000 gulls use the beach as a resting area a few hours before sunset.They congregate side-by-side as people walk within feet of them - no scopes, no binoculars, and best of all, no flushing! The birds just stand there and allow close study until they all harmoniously rise and settle on the ocean just past the breakers.

This site was made famous during the Gull Convention of 2010 when Michael Brothers, who had discovered the huge gull congregation a few years prior, co-lead a field trip here. Every single attendee was amazed!

The majority of gulls that congregate on the beach are Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, but the sheer number of birds in one area is what captures the attention of birders and nonbirders alike. This site becomes most interesting in late fall and winter when Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed and the occasional Kumlien's and Glaucous Gulls join the flocks. Florida's first Vega Gull was found here and many other interesting LWHGs are always stirring up excitement. Take for instance possible European Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Slaty-backed Gull and 3 Appledore Gulls since 2010. 

Because a single photo would not do this site justice, I shot this amateur video during my last visit in January of 2011. You could forward to the end if you want to see the gulls extend out to the horizon: