gulls and starlings take my breath away
27.03.2008 - 27.03.2008 6 °C
I finally got out for my first “real” bike ride of the spring! I decided to do my favourite route, which takes me across the river to Port Williams, down to Starr’s Point, and then follows the shoreline almost to Canning. It was actually sunny and beautiful and warm. I noticed that someone had cut down the big, beautiful orchard of apple trees that I love to watch in the summer when the apple blossoms come out, and I wondered how anyone could have the heart to do that. Money I guess.
When I was nearing Canning a little border collie bounded up the road at me, and I stopped my bike to say hello and check out “her” sheep in the field - babies everywhere! You always discover new life on bike adventures. That’s one reason why I love it.
The real treat of the trip was when I saw a flock of birds near upper Cunard and veered off the path I planned to take onto a side road. When I turned the corner and got up over the crest of the hill, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were literally thousands of gulls (NOT sea gulls, thanks for the clarification from my animal behaviour prof Dave Shutler at Acadia) chowing down on a single pile of some sort of refuse or manure. I dropped my bike at the side of the field, and started up the path towards the pile. Suddenly I stopped and thought to myself, is this a crazy idea!?? There are thousands of birds in a reallllly concentrated area... that’s a lot of falling, liquid poo...
But then I reconsidered - “I’m a biologist dammit, I don’t care about poo!” and kept heading towards the birds. They let me get very close, and I snapped pictures like crazy as I walked toward them. Every so often they would spook, stop vocalizing, and the air would fill with the sound of thousands of wings flapping - birds flying over top of me in all directions. It was absolutely amazing, I have never experienced anything remotely like it in my life. It reminded me of why I got into biology in the first place.
Eventually the gulls took off and a group of several thousand starlings replaced them on the compost heap. What a sight. Where gulls seem to have no rhyme or reason to where they fly, starlings are more like schools of fish in how they move through the air. It was breathtaking to see all these tiny little birds zooming around in perfect synchrony - landing, chattering, lifting off, the sound of their wings like distant muted thunder.
I was smiling all the way to my spinning class, where I forgot to bring running shoes for our usual post-bike arena stairs run, and socks as well. I was half way up the hill towards home to grab them when I realized I didn’t have a key to the house, so back down I went (I ended up borrowing a pair from a friend). After the spinning class, Josh and I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and run outside for the first time this year - we didn’t go far, but I couldn’t believe how tired my legs were (maybe something to do with the 70 km of biking I had done so far??? who knows)!
Altogether a wonderful day.