First of all, I’d like to report a conversation I had, a few weeks ago, with my sister (who doesn’t bird):
Her: There’s an exotic bird place, right near here. You could mark so many birds off your list….
Me: Only, no, because you can only add a bird to your list if you find it yourself, in its natural habitat; it can’t be a captive one. Captives don’t count.
Her: Why? Who says?
Me: I don’t know; the bird people. It’s a rule. It’s like…you have to venture into the wild, hunt that bird down — find it, creep up on it, get a jolly good look — and then, you march back to civilisation, and you tell them “Yep. I birded that bird. I birded the SHIT out of that bird.”
I haven’t ventured into the wild, lately. I’ve hardly ventured beyond the garden (shame, shame!). But I think I can safely say I’ve birded the bejesus out of the local gulls. I mean, I’ve BIRDED those buggers! I’ve watched them eat, fight, play, chase birds of prey, catch their own fish, steal fish from ducks, shriek at the callous kids breaking up their nest, boak, preen, sleep, and, well…shag. Oh, how I’ve watched them shag. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m not some creepy birding voyeur, or anything. It’s just that they do it so much, and so loudly, and so close to my window (once, directly outside it — at one point, one of their tails was sticking into my bedroom) — I’d really have to work at it, to avoid catching them in action.
So, early this evening, I was out on my balcony, eating an apple, when who should appear but the birdie exhibitionists, themselves. They flumped down maybe fifteen feet from me, and started in with the face-rubs and head-nips and breast-bumps — what passes for affection among gulls. I bit my apple between my teeth, picked up my camera, and recorded the entire event, from foreplay to finish: this is the final photographic word on gullie love! (My final word, anyway. Tomorrow, I’m finding some other bird to watch!)
Usually, when I take a lot of pictures of the same birds, I only expose my favourites to the Internet. But on this, ahem, special occasion, I’m exposing them all, that the viewer with too much time on his hands might behold the entire event in fascinated horror, much as I did. And here they are:
Hopefully, these gullie shag displays might soon be replaced by cute, interestingly-patterned minigulls, enjoying their first snacks at my feeder. Less bouncy-bouncy, more sitting on the nest! I know you’ve got eggs, Mrs. Gull. Get on home!