From the mountains, across the Piedmont and Tidewater and onto the beach is a trip of about four hours from the New River Valley. How odd that a bird with no interest in playing in the snow would make the trip from Virginia Beach to this valley in December.
But here they are in search of the alewife, a seagull delicacy. Alewife are small minnows that live and spawn in the New River and Claytor Lake providing a bountiful feast for the larger fish. It is not unusual to spot an occasional kingfisher or heron visiting to take advantage of the buffet. In December and January gulls arrive to feast on the alewife.
While in town, the gulls congregate not only at the lake but are rather fond of parking lots as places to gather and that is where I spotted a party of about 50 birds this week. According to the New York Times, it seems that gulls are rather fond of french fries and other fast food tidbits and have learned that the sources of these delicacies are usually clustered around large parking lots.
There may be other reasons that they are drawn to the open areas of asphalt. Only they know for sure. At any rate I like it when they arrive. It is a reminder of warm weather, early morning walks along the beach and wonderful fresh seafood buffets. I wonder if, on hot summer days, the Gulls dream of their vacation in the mountains and the freshwater delicacies?