I recently observed Ring-billed Gulls on the beach doing something that struck me as rather odd. They were standing in the runnel – the low area midway up the beach where a couple of inches of water are usually trapped at low tide – and shuffling their feet back and forth, looking, to be whimsical for a moment, almost like they were dancing a jig. Periodically they would stop dancing and dip their bills into the water and swallow something, so the shuffling motion must have been stirring up something edible. But what?
This video shows the behavior, although admittedly not with great quality.
After they’d moved on I looked more closely at where they’d been standing and could see where they’d stirred up the wet sand, but there wasn’t anything unusual in the sand there when I ran my fingers through it – only the tiny surf clams that are everywhere on this beach.
Anyone want to take a guess at what they were up to?