a fine day for fishing (and walking)

“Hobbes’ Claw – Unsheathed 4” by Stephen Klema
9.5.20 ~ Avery Point
Open Air: An Exhibition of Sculpture & Installation Art

We enjoyed a lovely walk at Avery Point on Saturday morning. The weather was perfect! (The weather was wonderful on Sunday, too, but we stayed home and did some painting with windows wide open.)

“Azucar” by Christopher Wynter

We discovered quite a few people fishing down on the west-facing revetment, and then spotted dozens of new cairns along the top of the south-facing seawall.

cairn close-up
lots of cairns on the revetment, stretching from the tree to the lighthouse
cairns by the sea

But as we were admiring all the little sculptures we heard some gulls squabbling and turned around to investigate. A great black-backed gull was in possession of a large fish, perhaps he caught it but he may well have stolen it from a nearby herring gull. Either way, he wasn’t about to share it.

We watched him stab and pick at his meal for quite a while, completely captivated. I wonder if any of the human fishers were so lucky that morning. 🙂

New London County now has 1,620 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 7 people are in the hospital and 107 have lost their lives. That’s 121 new cases and 4 more in the hospital since August 21. Numbers ticking up again. Staying safe (I hope) in our bubble… College students are back in town and there could be a surge after the Labor Day weekend, although it seems like there weren’t any large holiday gatherings locally. Perhaps people are becoming more prudent.

After many years of referring to “my gull friend with the mangled leg” I have finally dubbed him The Captain, after my sea captain ancestors. I went through my old posts and added his new moniker as a category so I can quickly see all the photos I have taken of him over the years. I don’t know if I will ever see him again but I am hoping that by next summer Tim & I can resume our evening meals on our bench at the beach and have him fly over to the post in front of us for a visit. I sure missed him this summer! The Captain

13 thoughts on “a fine day for fishing (and walking)”

  1. I love your stories and photos, Barbara. Its such a joy -I am transported. We never had “tame” seagulls at our summerhouse. But a White Wagtile-family walked under the same window each year( and we never found their nest.)

    1. Thank you, Leelah. What a lovely little bird! I just spent a few delightful minutes listening to the audios and looking at the videos and pictures of white wagtails on eBird. We don’t have them here. I think I could spend many happy hours birdwatching in Norway. 🙂

  2. It must have been great to get out for a while and walk by the water. I love seeing cairns, and that seagull looks almighty pleased with itself!

    I really, really hope you see The Captain again! I have a little butcher birds who visits my garden every day and he has his own special feeding place, away from the other birds. I can hand feed him now and if he doesn’t turn up any days I always worry about him. I’m so torn between wanting to protect him and knowing that nature must always take its course. I’m convinced that birds can sense when a person wants to be kind to them and they act accordingly. 🙂

    If you do see The Captain again, please take lots of photos to share. <3

    1. It was great getting outside on a dry, breezy day! The humidity is back with a vengeance but it is only a matter of time before autumn arrives for good with its cool, crisp air.

      Apparently herring gulls have a lifespan of 30 or more years and the Captain is at least 9 years old so I am holding onto the hope that I will see him again next summer. And when I do I will be taking pictures, probably way too many. 🙂

      I just spent another few delicious minutes listening to the audios and looking at the videos and pictures of gray butcherbirds on eBird. What a gift the internet is these days. I think I could spend many happy hours birdwatching in Australia, too. Some of us do seem to have a special connection with wild birds. I agree, I think they can sense our intentions. ♡

  3. The open air art exhibit looks like fun Barbara and what a scenic locale for a walk. I never see any cairns around here – you got some nice shots of them. You sure had a bird’s eye view of the gull enjoying his fish … quite a large fish isn’t it. I see he didn’t share. 🙂 I hope you see The Captain again. Everything has been off this year – not just COVID but erratic weather patterns everywhere, so perhaps he is spending his Summer at another seaside venue.

  4. I will look at more photos of The Captain later, but I just scrolled through some of the posts … I laughed at the trick of stealing a footlong hot dog. I live fairly close to Bishop Park which is along the Detroit River. It has a boardwalk and a small park nearby which has grills set up as well, plus a nearby concession stand. The gulls at Bishop Park used to be famous for doing a fly by and swiping hot dogs right off people’s grills – in a second they’d grab a hot dog bun and off they’d go – can’t say I heard they would take the frank too, but it was common knowledge that if you grilled at Bishop Park, you’d best stand right next to your food to avoid a seagull stealing your food.

    1. It was fun seeing all the sculptures but I’m afraid I left off looking at them when I got distracted by the gull activity. 🙂 Maybe I will go back and try to pick up where I left off. I am wondering if they will leave those cairns in place after the exhibit is over.

      The concession stand at our beach didn’t open this summer because of COVID-19, which I think was a wise decision by our mayor. So I’m sure many of the regular gulls found other places to look for summer treats. I’m amazed that your gulls would steal hot dogs off a hot grill, you’d think it would burn their mouths and throats. But I’m happy to report that the Captain eats regular gull food, too. Once, when I didn’t have my camera, he caught a large crab and ate it in front of us while we were having our dinner. 🙂

      1. The cairns are unusual – they must have been balanced nicely as they didn’t topple over – the cairns’ creator(s) would have been purists and would not have glued them in place I suppose?

        That was a wise decision not to open the concession stand – I don’t know if the stand at Bishop Park was open as I am never there that late in the day. I get there early and walk along the boardwalk with the fishermen and the gulls – it is peaceful down at that shoreline park.

        I Googled to see if I could find a story about the seagulls stealing food as I remember hearing the stories for decades – all I found were my own blog posts where I referenced them doing so through the years. That was long before social media and we still had print newspapers. I don’t know how a gull could grab a hot dog without burning its beak/tongue. Perhaps it was grabbed quickly, then laid down like your gull laid the fish out to set to work eating it. I would think the meat would not cool off that quickly – I do know it was a real problem and publicized quite a bit. If people food isn’t there, the Captain had to resort to catching his own meal. 🙂

        1. Funny you should mention gluing the cairns in place, my husband also thought that they must be glued together somehow.

          There was always a sign at the concession stand warning people that they weren’t responsible for replacing food stolen by gulls. 🙂 It still happened a lot. But people were part of the problem because they would often feed the gulls french fries, which is against the rules. People…

          1. It could be as they want them to look perfect for the art exhibit.

            I read somewhere not too long ago that the hikers build the cairns on their trails so they don’t get lost when it is time to make the return trip, and, as a result, there are not as many rocks on the landscape now. People don’t take their cairns down when they are done with their hike, so other people come along and try to outdo the previous ones and leave them in a row. People … indeed!

            That is funny that they posted a sign – it sounds like something prompted by a lawyer doesn’t it? The gulls love French Fries. We’d go to A&W and the carhop had to guard the food on the window tray, until we paid and could quickly bring it into the car without the gulls swooping down from nowhere to feast on a fry. Gulls always hung around A&W. We’d throw out a couple of items to them, a bite of hot dog bun from our footlong, or a curly fry and it was a mad scramble. Once we closed the window again, they moved on to the next car and potential treats.

          2. The first (and only) time I can remember encountering cairns was at the rocky Coumeenoole Beach in Kerry, Ireland. I’m wondering if I’ve seen them on hiking trails around here and just never noticed them before.


            A&W, as in root beer? I remember one on Cape Cod when I was a kid but my parents would rarely stop there, preferring fish and chips if we ate out. (Since we stayed with my grandparents we rarely ate out.) There are none here in Connecticut.

    1. Will say hi from you when I see him! These days with this kind of weather are to be savored. I do hope we get lots and lots of walks in this fall. I hope you do, too. ♡

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