Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ducks And Gulls

The world we live in is fortunate in something too simple to be over-described as cosmic law - as easy to grasp as, say, an act of tenderness.

Lawrence Durrell
I hope you had a pleasant weekend with some joy and not much sorrow. I spent some of it feeding the birds.

I currently live on the banks of the Delaware River. I don't have any real friends here, people I've known and loved for a while. I'm always hoping one or more of my journal friends will come to visit. I tell them if they come we can go down to the river and throw stones at the sea gulls. Whenever I say that a few people actually think I'm being serious. "You don't do that do you? How awful." I laugh.

The only one who has been to visit is Just Plain Bill and when he comes it usually means a happy trip to the King George for manhattans, (Pictures to come one day when I can figure out how to do it.) I always enjoy it when Bill shows up.

No. The only things I throw at the gulls are treats, in the form of bread crumbs. There are gulls and there are ducks and I've made some observations about their behavior I find rather interesting. (Am I boring you?)

Sea gulls are elegant birds. They can take off just like that, fly around and land on a spot and they look beautiful in flight. But they speak with a raucus noise, like fingernails scraping on a blackboard. It seems like one of nature's big jokes but maybe it's a sound that can travel some distance over water so they can keep in touch with each other, sort of like a world wide web.

I used to admire the gulls in Provincetown, on Cape Cod. They would swoop down, grab an oyster or a clam which they could see under the water from a height, fly back up and drop it on a rock to crack it open so they could eat the meat. Their aim was amazing.

Here on the Delaware there are also ducks. Compared with the gulls the ducks are rather dumb. They paddle around in the water or waddle around on the shore and more or less take what comes.

But here's the most amazing thing. (Are you bored yet?) When it comes to feeding time the gulls defer to the ducks. The ducks will gather around and pick up the crumbs gleefully while the gulls hover around the edges. Even if I throw crumbs out to them they won't touch them. I think they observe the ducks and if one of them doesn't fall over in sudden death or stagger around with indigestion a gull will occasionally sneak in, grab a crumb and scram, as if he was a thief. He will soon be followed by the others. Once the ducks are done the gulls will go to it with a feeding frenzy

But if there are no ducks around the following scenario takes place. (Still not bored?)I sit on the bench with my bag of crumbs and fling a few out in front of me. The gulls are immediately alert. Most of them just circle around. A few of them, the older and more tired of them perhaps, land at a distance. But no one approaches the crumbs. Then one of them swoops down, right in front of me, flies over the lunch, then right over my head, evidently checking me out along with the cuisine. He must then squawk a "roger" because soon the gulls are all over the crumbs and looking for more.

You can't tell me there isn't some intelligence at work here, some cosmic law of diligence, deference, community and cooperation, a system for an ornithologically inclined scientist to pander.

(I hope I didn't bore you.)

May June bring you great robust blessings.

Question of the day: Does the condition in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that the country should increase conservation while it spends more time and efforts on developing alternative sources of energy or that it should concentrate its efforts on more ground based resources such as the Alaskan oil fields?

Thank you,


mrs. miss alaineus said...

not bored at all. re the oil question, i think they need to find a balance where both conservation and exploration/drilling of the alaskan fields is happening. i also think that drilling practices, both current and future, need to be examined and regulated more with environmental concerns in mind.


Valerie said...

I think it is quite fascinating that a gull squaks a "roger" before the other gulls come in to eat.

I feed ducks once in awhile, too. I like to see their behavior. There are definitely alpha ducks. I know a one-legged duck up the street in a pond that is quite assertive. I guess that is how he survived. This was quite interesting. I love birds.

Hope this week brings you more joy and amusement than frustrations, DB. xox

Lisa said...

I love gulls. When I was little I always insisted we take one home from the beach, which of course we didn't. My mom knew I would be an "animal person" since the day I entered the world. LOL.

We haven't been in your area for years. The bike market dried up! I promise you though we'll visit you if we're in the area!!!

pacifica62 said...

Birds are beautiful creatures to interact with and they all know their pecking order in the grand scheme of bird life. Seagulls stand and watch a lot before they make their move. They also defer to crows who have a communication system better than ours. I would love to visit you db, but alas, I live on the ocean on the other side, so not exactly on my daily route to anywhere.
As to your question of the day, we need to rethink our way of life and give up our dependence on petroleum products. We need to show the world that it can be done in order to have a safer, cleaner world. There are plenty of alternative sources of energy that will not harm the environment. The USA is very slow to jump on the bandwagon. What happened to Kyoto? Forget the ground based Alaskan oilfields. How is the oil going to be moved around. Pipeline or tankers? Not up and down my coast, thank you.

Bonnie Bonsai said...

This subject is reminiscent to those early morning days in Central Coast where I got up when everybody was still snoring in bed, grabbed a plastic bag of morsels I kept for the birds, sneaked out of the door, and enjoyed my sandy walk down the boardwalk. There I spied a flock of seagulls, few pelicans and sea ducks. Unsuspecting of what I was doing, I would deviate path and threw everything inside the bag and like you said, one would screamed a signal because suddenly they all swooped over the morsels.

I loved spoiling them. They are very delightful to watch!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We will be there in November.

Liz said...

"I'm always hoping one or more of my journal friends will come to visit."

That is what an online friend on Orkney wrote to me and he did not believe I would visit him until he saw me towing my caravan off the ferry.
I have since repeated the journey and hope to be able to find the strength to once again stand beside my friend.