California Gulls catching cicadas on the wing in the Mono Basin

Observers: Justin Hite and Jim Penz
Email: justinhiteatgmaildotcom
Verification: MONO
Remote Name:
Date: 07/07/2008
Time: 01:31 PM -0400


Yesterday Jim Penz and I enjoyed watching one of those rare classic Mono Lake events: California Gulls catching cicadas on the wing on a windless afternoon. We first came across a group of several dozen adult California Gulls in the sagebrush west of Black Point and east of Cemetery Road. They were flying low and circling about, occasionally rising fast and tossing their bill up to grab a passing cicada. A half hour later we were in the first swath of Pinyon and Utah Juniper that comes down out of the Bodie Hills to cross Highway 167 (just a little east of its junction with Cemetery Road). Many more dozen adult gulls were swooping low over this miniature forest nabbing cicadas and acting more like giant swallows than gulls. The last time I remember seeing this was 2001, and for a period of three weeks that year the adult gulls fed their nestlings almost entirely cicadas.