Posted by: pilgrm34 | September 23, 2011

gulls on a thermal

The current is moving unhurriedly and the water level so low, parts of the Columbia Slough are mere pools with trickling streams to connect them. It’s a vulnerable situation for water creatures but a boon for predators. The exposed silt creates its own particular rich ecosystem. Plover adults and fledglings are combing in search of insects, small crustaceans and other miniscule animal life. Interestingly, they hunt by sight, using short rapid bursts of speed, pausing and running to spot and snatch up prey.

Seagulls circle in a large formation a few hundred feet in the air, distant enough that only their outline with a glint of white and black against a dark sky is visible. While gliding around an invisible center point they shift gradually southward. A few flaps propels each bird effortlessly all the way around, until another flap is necessary. They blithely bank en masse lifted by a thermal. They remind me of the nearby motorcycle racers banking around the raceway curves, just much quieter. Is the seagulls’ flight for any reason other than pure joy? I don’t know, but observing them lifts my spirits.

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