Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Worst Sky Rat: Seagull, Pigeon, Grackle??
Okay. So, I went walking out by the water today. It was a rather surfy morning with lots of wind and birds (royal tern, snowy egret, cormorants, pelicans, willets, first ring-beaked gull of the season, as well as herds and flocks of laughing gulls), and I saw these ladies feeding the gulls.
As I walked nearer, more gulls arrived. They were flying over from--from miles away, or it seemed like it. The gulls already present didn't seem to be making much noise. No cries other than the usual, from what I could tell, and not many of those. And I decided that seagulls must have telepathy.
There must be some extrasensory sense they use to tell each other when somebody's throwing food. Because there might be One seagull when the first breadcrumb gets pitched, and dozens mass out of nowhere to fight over it.
I'm pretty sure these ladies aren't local. Most of the locals are not fond of seagulls. They're too much of a nuisance to want to feed them. There are a few locals who will feed seagulls. The matriarch of a local restaurant kingdom used to feed the seagulls from the balcony of the hotel next to their flagship restaurant. There's a statue in the restaurant of her, or someone, feeding gulls. There's a story going round (I don't know how true it is) that she died falling from the balcony while feeding the gulls. But let's leave that depressing digression and return to my next thought.
Which was: Which is the worst nuisance? Pigeons, grackles or seagulls?
They are all known for gathering in great swarms. They are all known for pooping on everything in range. Frequently, with great disgustingness and stench. But which one is the worst of the sky rats?
My vote goes to grackles.
Seagulls? They're stuck by large bodies of water. They have webbed feet , so they can't sit in trees and poop on the cars parked under them. (Take note, director of 300 where a seagull sits on a spear--not possible. Webbed feet can't grasp a spear!) Their cries aren't that annoying. Laughing gulls have a lower pitched cry than other gulls, so it's less annoying than those others. They're also smaller birds, as gulls go, so they don't poop as much as the big herring gulls. Also, I haven't seen them sitting on the beach in groups larger than, oh, maybe 30 or so. Mostly less.
Pigeons have a wide range. We have pigeons on the beaches. Sometimes. They do sit in trees and on statues and stuff, and I think there may be a pigeon ESP as well, because they seem to gather instantly when somebody starts throwing bread crumbs. But they don't seem to gather in flocks as large as the grackles. Also, they're edible. And they coo. Nice, soft, cuddly-sounding coos.
Grackles? They're as big as pigeons, beak to tail, but they're skinny. No meat on their bones. And they collect in flocks that can take over whole city parks. Thousands of birds. We took this picture in February/March (around Mardi Gras). The power lines are not that thick. There are birds along every line, and they're all over the lines across the street, and along the rooflines, and in the trees (there aren't many) and Everywhere. Massive, Alfred-Hitchcock-worthy flocks.
Besides all the pooping and gathering and flocking, grackles do not coo. They do not tweet or chirp or cheep. They Screech. Like nails on a blackboard. Literally. And they clack. Sort of like a 3 Stooges "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," but louder. And more clacky. And then they screech again. Endlessly. Back and forth at each other in their ginormous flocks.
If I have to have grackles, or pigeons, or seagulls, I will take seagulls. If I can't have seagulls, I'll take pigeons. If only I do not have to deal with grackles. Unfortunately, on the island, we have all three. Sigh.
Oh. I took a picture of a little sand crab too. It was very cool. I almost didn't see it, it's so tiny, and so close to the same color as the sand. Can you see it in the middle of the picture? It's casting a pretty big shadow. The whole thing, from one end of its little legs to the other, is about the size of my thumb, to give you a size comparison. I only spotted it (and the other, smaller one I saw) because they were running across the sand. Back to their holes, maybe.
I did write today. I got all the way to the end of the action in the synopsis. I now need to write the emotional denouement. I am not sure what it will be. I also pretty much left all the romance plot out of the synopsis. I'm trying to lean harder to one way or the other in SF or romance. I do pretty much half and half, most of the time. I can write the romance in the story, but I'm having trouble writing it into the synopsis. It's like--the romance happens while they're doing this other stuff. We'll see how it works. Maybe this story is the other way round. Ah well.
So--what's your vote? Grackles? Pigeons? Seagulls? Which is the worst nuisance???