Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BREAD AND BIRDS


I like to keep my distance from seabirds. White droppings, bird diseases, beady eyes, and darting searches for crumbs under my table at Sharky's--all too close for comfort. Aggressive scavengers, they never miss a thing. An unsuspecting tourist can walk along the edge of the sea licking an ice cream cone, get dive-bombed, and be left holding an empty cone. Fast food containers, when carried onto the beach, wave like white flags of surrender, sure to attract a bird attack.

At a distance, though, I'm in awe of them. Soaring and dipping, diving and drinking, they fascinate the quiet observer with spectacles of flight and feeding. They're not easy to capture with a low-tech camera--I long for cool shots that show workings of wings, shapely silhouettes against sky and sea. I'll get one someday but only by accident--it's just a matter of clicks.

Meanwhile, there's the bird lady at Casperson Beach who supplies me with close-ups slow enough for my shutter. Every evening, she comes to sunset with a simple set-up--a folding chair and two loaves of bread rustling about in plastic wraps. The minute she sits down, swirls of birds arrive.

She treats them like children, scolding the big ones for pushing aside smaller ones as she tosses bits of bread torn from her loaves. "You be good now! Get away and let the little ones have a chance," she'll say. If they don't listen, she uses another tactic--holding back. Expectant, they stand stilll, riveted for the next toss. Some move slowly around the edges, jockeying for better positions. It's my time to shoot.

Suddenly, there's a burst, a flurry and bread bits fly thick and fast. The air vibrates with excited flapping and diving, dipping and devouring. The bird lady is joyous, thrilled to be surrounded by her friends. So much attention, so little time!

When she finally runs out of bread, they can't believe it. They stand about, the sun casting a glow on sand and feathers as it slips over the edge of the world.


Finally, worn out with waiting, one bird breaks ranks and the rest follow, swirling away down the beach.

The bird lady folds up her chair, satisfied.
Goodnight, Sun.
Until tomorrow.

8 comments:

The Jerdees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Jerdees said...

Mine mine mine mine mine...

I remember going to St. Armand's with Kim and getting an ice cream at Scoop Daddy's. Kim ate hers slowly so she could enjoy it while watching the sunset at Lido Beach. Right as we walked onto the beach some seagulls swooped down and snatched her cone. It was gone in a flash. Oh the memories...

Ron said...

Birds mean freedom! Soaring, diving, grasping, settling wherever, whenever; captured only by the wind of the blowing spirits! O, to be a bird...for a time.

Dimple said...

The first shot is wonderful! The blur of the wings shows the motion, and the clear lines of the bodies are a good contrast. The light is stunning!
Thanks for the comment!

Jeanne Klaver said...

Such a lovely story! The photos are superb. Love the composition.

lakeviewer said...

She has conditioned them to wait for her! Strange how we affect so many other species.

Thanks, Abbey, for your visits, your sweet comments.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Becky this first shot is fantastic!!! beautiful...!! I agree there is nothing better than watching the birds with their wings spread gliding across the seas... free from gravity and other human aspects to way them down..

Huh!!! The seagulls here will surely steal your food but not out of your hand.. whereas the Magpies will attack your head and anything else fair game just for strolling past their tree!! Are they seagulls... your gulls seem to be two-toned.. ours are all white!! sorry it's my job to notice the boring details.. haha... Have fun.. beautiful post!!! xxx Julie

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love to watch birds, but only through a window, or at a distance. I'm rather afraid of them up close. I blame Tippi Hedren, of course!