Saturday, October 3, 2009

duke & duchess

Near the mouth of the Carmel River is an estuary of reeds and tidal still water where there are always birds aplenty. Today, after we picnicked overlooking the beach, we visited them and shared our sourdough communion with these mallards and a host of Western gulls who horned in. There was an ambience of peace here today as the sun shone and the breeze was gentle. A wedding was being set up on the beach behind us, where the gulls were congregating, and beach-goers were walking to and from the parking area. In the quiet water I could see minnows running, as could the mallards, who would bottoms-up from time to time in the most ridiculous posture to nibble a fishy snack. They quickly figured out there was a hand-out going on, and joined the bread line, but the gulls were much more aggressive cutting in line and exhibiting a 'me-first' attitude and crying for attention. The ducks, on the other hand, while interested in the bread, were not going to sacrifice their dignity to make a mad dash for easy bread. If it came within reach and they made it to the morsel before a gull came crashing in to gobble, they would scoop it up and properly masticate it before swallowing. Curiously, when the mallards did score a piece, the gulls would turn away and leave them unmolested and uncontested, focusing instead on the next possibly forth-coming prize.
Earlier at our picnic site we'd fed a host of brewer's blackbirds...the jet black ones with yellow eyes (males) without the red epaulets, until a contingent of crows decided to assert their turf-rights. The black birds fell back and yielded the least ground necessary to not challenge the crows, but stuck around to pick up the smaller pieces the crows overlooked. Soon, though, they bailed and went in search of easier pickings.
After we stopped tossing bread morsels, the gulls lost interest in us and left. The mallards continued swimming about looking down into the still water.

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