26 March, 2008

One Morning with Seagulls in Mukalla

Seagulls are amazing birds: they are resourceful, highly intelligent, are known to have a highly developed social structure and look very much alike; by just looking at them, it's very difficult to tell the males from the females; while most animals can not drink both fresh and salt water - seagulls can. They have a special pair of glands right above their eyes, specifically designed to flush the salt from their systems through openings in the bill; seagulls hunt and scavenge, and can eat any thing - from fish to bread to french fries. Gulls are known to sometimes live many miles away from where you see them during the day and as they breed and nest in very remote, difficult to reach places - very few people get to see baby gulls. One morning, a few days ago, I spent sometimes close to them.

For a few moments, I could get very close to some of the gulls.



Above: in the distance beyond, is the furthest suburb of Al Mukalla - Fowah.

So strikingly similar and alike in appearance, I have never been able to tell the males from the females.

While some dip in the water, others spend a long time just standing and lazing around. In the distance are fishing boats.

Gulls love hanging around fishing boats where they are assured of plenty of food.

Ever read the book 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' by Richard Bach or watched the movie by the same name? The story is about a seagull: Jonathan Livingston Seagull - who is fiercely independent, proud, noncomforming and wants to be a 'gull in a million' and who does things that other seagulls dare never to do; this individualism and revolutionary streak, causes him to be expelled and be banished by his flock; and he becomes an outcast. Eventually, after a long journey of loneliness, solitude, learning and daring - Jonathan becomes a mentor to other seagulls who, too, have been outlawed for not conforming. The book is real good; the film isn't that good; but I loved the soundtrack by Neil Diamond - of all American singers, Neil is my most favorite; I greatly enjoy listening to his songs. The more I watch seagulls, the more I come to like and admire them. They are indeed great survivors.