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Monday, March 24, 2014

73. Observations of a Colony of Gulls


Last week, while vacationing at the Outer Banks, my wife and I were able to eventually get out to the beach area for some short-lived sunshine. We happened to be in an area where a colony of at least a couple hundred seagulls had chosen to feed and rest just north of Kitty Hawk. The chilling wind had died down somewhat on that sunny day of March, but the temperature of the ocean waves seemed to be in the forties for I had a chance to walk barefoot in an approaching wave for just a moment and the moment was long enough, if not too long.
 
As we walked over to the flock of gulls, I was astonished at how unafraid they were of the presence of my wife and I. We moved to and fro a bit, but remained within a very close proximity of the birds as we soaked in the warm sunshine and breathed in the cool breeze of the salty sea air.
 
As time continued, we found ourselves in the middle of the flock, standing at ease, with the flock of gulls going about their daily tasks of resting, flying, attempting to find something to eat and, as I closely observed, only a few managing to eat what was found in the sand, rather than the surf.
 
Within a timeframe of an hour, or so, only a few of the gulls had found something to eat. At first glance, the pieces of stringy substance dripping from the beak of a gull looked like a small worm of sorts. I thought to myself, “Where are they getting these worms?” and as common sense hit me square in the face, I surmised that it was the clams just under the surface of the sand that these creatures were devouring as their morning meal.
 
Only a few gulls, however, would discover the right meal at the right place at the right time. By far, most gulls simply stood around seemingly doing nothing, but there were those whose heads turned and twitched as they slowly walked around searching for the air pockets in the sand of the clams tucked safely in their shells beneath the surface. When a hunter gull had the chance to find a clam, his protruding beak became the plucker of the prize. He would then take a step gathering his composure and up righting his sight; then checking his periphery from the on looking peers. If the peers hesitated, the hunter of the clam would take another step forward giving him opportunity to swallow the piece of clam just found. On the other hand, if the peering indolent gulls observed quickly that their brother had found something they wanted, strident squawking would ensue notifying the closest to the hunter and the lunging and the flying would immediately commence.
 
In this instance, the seagull hunter with the beak full of stringy clam would invariably have to jump into flight in order to pull away from the ensuing aggressor gulls that had not been looking in the right place at the right time as to find the clam themselves and from the strident squawkers whose job was seemingly to stand around and notify others to make chase. Anywhere from one to three aggressor gulls would pursue the hunter gull in flight pecking at its hind quarters, particularly its legs, so as to cause the gull to squawk and lose its morning meal. With this particular scenario occurring more than a few times, I came to realize that the chasing aggressive pursuers were not so much interested in the clam feast themselves, they were more adept at causing the hunter gull that was looking in the right place at the right time to lose what he had and none of the birds ended up with the clam for it would fall into the ocean waves while all were in flight. Needless to say, there were many hungry birds left on the shore.
 
Of course, the attempts by the aggressor birds would, at first, be to attempt to get at the worm or clam and if the hunter gull was a more powerful or more evasive in flight, then he would fly to a surface where he could sit and eat his find. In no instance did I see any aggressor seagull that had pinched the legs or wings of a hunter go after the falling clam, they simply flew on allowing the clam to fall below to sink into the ocean waters.
 
It was almost to say, “If I cannot have what you have been able to attain by your efforts of searching and seeking in the right place at the right time, then no one will.”  
 
As it is with indolent aggressor seagulls, so it is with political interlopers who choose to defame and discredit their successful political opponent while their collective adversary sits and watches the fray from their offices of pandering vagrancy.     
 

 

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