You’ve heard of The Most Interesting Man in the World, yes? Well, Amar Ayyash is on anybody’s shortlist for The Most Interesting Birder in America. Not just interesting, but generous, intelligent, and, in his way, as All-American as they get. To see what we mean, read the interview with Amar [ABA member account required for full access] in the June 2016 Birding.
During the final stages of production for the June issue, we had to bump an article. Disaster! What to do? Well, I got on the phone with The Most Interesting Birder in America, and begged him for an article. As in: Amar, can you deliver the whole thing by tomorrow evening?
What can I say?–He came through, big time.
The premise of Amar’s article [ABA member account required for full access] is disarmingly simple: Go to your local ball field or fishing pier, and look at gulls. Do it in the summer. Right now. What could be simpler? And, yet, if you know gulls, you know that gulls in summer–bleached, battered, and blasted by sun and surf–are perhaps the greatest ID challenge for American birders. You’ve heard of birders who “don’t do” gulls? Well, even some gull enthusiasts–they’re called “larophiles”–don’t do gulls in summer.
Isn’t that ironic? What could be more simplistically, essentially American than seagulls by the beach in summer? We all notice them. But how often do we try to put names to them? Here’s your chance. Amar took this photo along the coast of Massachusetts in July of 2015. You can almost smell the surf and feel the sea breeze. You can hear the idle banter–can’t you?–of beach goers, and the life guard’s whistle. And seagulls squealing. It’s so…simple.
Well, what are they?
Before we get going, how about a hint? See if you can ID the gulls in this image, taken at the same place and on the same date. If you get these three, you’re well positioned for the flock of 56.