Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: the gull below and the gull above

with 30 comments

Here are two portraits of gulls from Cathedral Cove on March 7, 2017. The first gull was down at the level of the cove drinking from a shallow pool formed by water falling from the top of the cliff high above (the second picture in yesterday’s post gives you a sense of how high up that was). The bird was near the edge of the pool, away from the heaviest falling of water. Notice the ripples spreading from a drop’s point of impact, along with a few droplets that had splashed up.

I took the second picture after we’d made the arduous hike back up to the carpark, where I couldn’t help noticing that several gulls were walking or standing on the roofs of cars parked there (no, not ours). This gull was on top of a white car, whose roof largely blended with the clouds when I hunched down a bit and aimed slightly upward to avoid details in the background.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 9, 2018 at 4:50 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Nice gull pics.

    Sherry Felix

    March 9, 2018 at 6:37 AM

  2. I see you have two different gulls here. One is a black-billed gull and the other has a pink bill and legs, so is it a red-billed gull? I always thought all gulls were the same until I came to live here. What I can tell you is they make a nasty mess of your car’s paintwork!!


    March 9, 2018 at 6:47 AM

    • Like you, I noticed the differences in coloring between the two gulls. From my first trip to NZ I knew the country has different species of gulls. I also learned that juveniles can look rather different from adults. This time I didn’t try to identify the two birds. Oh, what laxity.

      Even if nothing happened to our car, I sympathize with you about the way birds can mess up a car’s paint. If I see droppings on a parking space, I don’t park there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2018 at 7:07 AM

  3. The gray and white gull transformed into a brown gull by the water and the ground is a splendid image. In fact, the texture of the surface suggests the brown gull as a painting: a self-portrait, perhaps.

    You have to know I grinned when I saw that second gull with the white background. My crane-against-white was purely accidental, so it’s fun to see the same sort of effect achieved intentionally.

    Your post also reminded me of an amusing post by Mia McPherson about the naming of gulls. I confess I used to use the word seagull for the whole lot of them. Now I know better.


    March 9, 2018 at 7:11 AM

    • I’m aware that birders get irate about seagull. I get irate that they insist on capitalizing the names of birds. So there, take that, you Unnecessary Capitalizers.

      The English-language term seagull goes back centuries and is therefore much older than the modern sense of birder, which used to mean—oh horrors!—’bird catcher.’

      I’ve heard that in only a very few animal species can an individual recognize itself in a mirror-image.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      • And I know someone who’s on a campaign against what he calls promiscuous hyphenation. As for the capitalization of bird names, I still remember the day I tried to figure out what’s proper. There certainly are divided opinions on that one.


        March 9, 2018 at 7:48 AM

        • For me the two worst offenses in punctuation are:

          1) the promiscuous use of ‘s to make the plural, as in “I saw three car’s.”

          2) using the wrong one of it’s and its.

          As for ornithological capitalization, it’s for the birds.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 9, 2018 at 4:32 PM

    • In the usage graph at


      I noticed an upsurge for seagull in the 1970s. Then I remembered Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2018 at 9:02 AM

  4. Very Elegant-Looking Birds, In These Shots. My Caps are Off to You.
    A lesson there I guess – even creatures that always strike me as raucous, greedy, and obnoxious, can appear beautiful when they stop fussing and remain quiet.

    Robert Parker

    March 9, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    • A Briton responding to the beginning of your reply might say “Capital!”

      I generally find that people, too, can appear beautiful when they stop fussing and remain quiet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2018 at 4:21 PM

  5. I love gulls anyway, but that first photo is really special.


    March 9, 2018 at 8:48 AM

  6. 2 very beautiful portraits of gulls. If you hadn’t told us the setting in which you found the second, I’d have the impression it was a very remote, wild place.


    March 9, 2018 at 9:20 AM

    • You might say that along the lines of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, I turned a parking lot into a wild place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2018 at 4:25 PM

      • That is just what I was thinking when I was enjoying that photo 🙂


        March 10, 2018 at 8:29 AM

        • Then I wish you a happy silk purse. Too bad we couldn’t have wished ourselves a happily wild parking lot. Cathedral Cove being so popular, the lot was full and we had to wait a while to get a space to park.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 10, 2018 at 9:09 AM

  7. You’ve painted the first bird’s portrait… it’s a sort of Gull-Mona-Lisa. 🙂 And I love the expression in the one below… I wonder what the heck it was thinking? “Fish, glorious Fish” maybe.


    March 9, 2018 at 8:20 PM

  8. Great example of a high key image. I looked into ‘seagull’ also and see it’s an old term, first recorded in 1535-45, apparently from Britain. It’s interesting how it became popular again because of the novel that personified the gull.


    March 9, 2018 at 8:27 PM

  9. Super reflection Steve .. really enjoying your NZ shots 🙂


    March 13, 2018 at 4:53 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: