In my half-asleep, half-awake state with the windows open in the very early morning, the calls of raucous gulls sounded like children playing. Gulls should not be equated with children, they are serious and seriously strong birds. In late winter I had watched a lone gull hunt for food with 40-50 mph sustained winds blowing directly into the small nearby cove. There were no other birds in sight as I watched a Great Black-Back, the largest of the gulls, swoop and dive, riding the winds searching the riled waters for displaced fish and shellfish being churned from the sea. It was hard for an adult human to stand upright in that wind yet this winged creature was taking advantage of the conditions, a total-body workout with bonus lunch. I was watching power coupled with determination.
The image of parking lot scavenger gulls does not match that storm gull’s flight and thinking about the starkly different “lifestyles” of this species I realized that the parking lot gulls, the city roof dwellers, the beach food grabbers all demonstrate the same highly effective survival mechanisms, yet another form of strength.
A lone gull flying over waves is a familiar presence in seascapes and a common fodder image on greeting cards sold in coastal gift shops, yet watching these gulls live their lives on the margins of sea and land is watching pure beauty, their presence iconic, a testament and metaphor of survival, of resilience and strength.