By Bernie Bell
I was walking along by the harbour, in Stromness, when I noticed a Seagull, cruising, quite high, in across the water, with something in its beak. It then dropped what turned out to be a crab, not into the water, but, with some precision, on the top of the harbour wall, where it landed with a CRACK!
The gull then landed next to the crab, flipped it over, and commenced to peck away at the exposed ‘meat’. It was so engrossed in its undressed crab, that it didn’t notice me, until I got quite close to it, but then, it became aware of my presence, and froze. A moment of indecision, whether to feed, or flee? So, I backed away, slowly, and it continued to feast on the remains of the crab.
I took a photo, from a bit of a distance away, then left the gull in peace, to feast.
And I thought – that bird knew what it was doing – had a plan. There are people who wouldn’t have worked that out.
Then, there are the local Hoodies – crows, that is. Just down the road from us, one of the telegraph poles has a Transformer box on top of it. When we first moved here, our neighbours told us that a pair of Hoodies used to build their nest on top of the Transformer box. The problem was, they used bits of barbed wire, picked up from the nearby fields. This would then cause a ‘short’ in the transmission, and the ’lecci would go off! This happened every year, at nesting time. Eventually, the Hydro people came out and rigged up something on the Transformer box, to stop crows building their nests there. I thought – how hard can you get? Orkney crows, build their nests out of barbed wire!
There are still a pair of Hoodies in the area. If I’m late putting out the bird food in our garden, they land on the fence posts, and caw at me! How do they know the time? Probably how we used to know the time, before we lost our senses – by the look and feel of what’s happening around them.
I don’t know where they nest now, but, each year they have a brood, of either one or two chicks, and each year, for a time, we have three or four Hoodies in the garden, instead of two. Then, once the young ones can fend for themselves, they get kicked out. Not a bad idea.