The Matinkylš 2005 Beach Excursion

So we flung ourselves on the unsuspecting beach. We were armed with a fig–date cake (you know, fig is the Jesus fruit) and a camera. It saddens me to confess but we have been at this quite often lately.

All right, maybe a bit of background helps to clear the matters. It all started yesterday when I was in cake-baking mood. Or actually it all started a bit before that. But never mind. So we laboured for good hour or so, and made ourselves a cake. And the cake was good, really. Maybe a bit over-sweet, but there's nothing wrong with that. And today we decided to feed it over to the birds. Does it make any sense to you? It sure makes perfect sense to me. Feeding birds is fun. Eating cake is much less fun. For instance, if you are a bit round like me, you start to get really conscious of every little molecule of fat that is making it to your bloodstream. But baking a cake—ah, that's just a great pleasure. Great enough so that you end up doing it again and again.

So it all comes together. A beautiful near-sunshine from near-cloudy sky illuminated the beach nicely. Initially, only a few of them ol' gulls were swimming about.

That changed pretty quickly. When the birds caught wind of what we were up to, they immediately arranged themselves in an attack formation. The cries from the ordinary working-birds pretty soon attracted a veritable army of gulls. Their sharp beaks were ready, their greedy eyes were fixed on us. I felt I was getting all the attention anyone could stomach.

They proved quite dexterious even in the air. I threw cake into the air and pretty often they would catch the food right-away in the midair. Of course, I only threw them softballs. Nothing like a cannon loaded with the cake aimed directly at the Sun or anything. Could really blast your feathers off, that kind of thing; I'm just a normal guy. I giggled at the absurd sight of birds suspended in mid-air catching the crumbs like this was completely usual way for them to get fed.

Suspended? I haven't told you everything yet. First and foremostly, we must consider the effects of the wind. The wind, you see, was nicely blowing at our backs and splitting around the aerodynamically shaped birds. Which meant that those things were floating, seemingly effortlessly, just a meter away from us or so. Hardly a wing flapped. It was definitely an amazing sight, and I made a mental notice to only go feed birds on windy days heretofore.

This particular specimen was caught beautifully on the electrons. We had several of these shots, and I think this came out rather nicely. Firstly, their evil little eyes isn't staring down hard on you, but rather gazing at the distance, and secondly the wings look like, well, like bird's wings should. Not upside down or anything.

Honestly, I have no idea what's going on in this picture. The little brown crumps however indicate that the blame for this sight lands squarely at me. I think the bird in question survived with no ill effects, as I definitely don't remember anyone of them crashlanding upside down.

Now, the first thing you need to understand about Ms. Swan is that She's A Lady. She was not happy swimming with the other, nimbler birds that were catching most of the stuff right from the air before any of it fell within her reach. No. She deserved something better. She got off the water, and trodded towards us. I was a bit worried of these advances by a bird of considerable size, but she stopped a bit off. Within a kicking distance, I thought. But a gentler thought crossed my mind. So, I naturally decided to give it a try, and lo and behold, this one ate directly from my hand. My hand received quite some pecking in the process, as she was not the gentlest of masters to her humble servant.

Encouraged by her boldness, I thought I'd fondle her a bit and proceeded to gently tap her on her majestic white wings, and I could hardly believe my ears when the Swan erupted into a terrible hiss. The sound was so out of place with what I expected from a bird that I tried it again and she hissed even louder! At this point, she decided that we weren't worthy companions for her ladyship anymore, and so she trodded back to the water.

Salty? Too sweet? Or was she just thristy to begin with? I don't know, but I sure do hope that the birds can stomach our delicacies.

Back in the water she made clicking sounds with her beak that drove other birds farther off, but otherwise fed happily with the others. She seemed clearly annoyed with the presence of the gulls, as if she had only now noticed them for the first time! What a weird creature we have for a mascot!

After the feeding frenzy was over, some more gulls were peacefully observing the far skyline. The swan was also swimming about majestically, like the queen of the seas that she is. (Hisss.) We ran out of memory on the camera, and could not capture these last moments as the flock of birds now disbanded. Couple of small fights broke over the last scraps, but these gulls were nevertheless serene and completely unperturbed by the agitation of their smaller cousins.

I felt lighter of heart (and of pocket), somehow satisfied at both the enjoyment of giving something freely and observing the amazing grace of the birds' flight, and their soft, perfect shapes on water.