A Gull Contemplates Life On The Edge

A juvenile herring gull (Larus argentatus) rests at the edge of Galveston Bay


When storms surge with never a lull,
it’s difficult being a gull.
Winds sweeping the shore
clean of bread bits and more
leave us longing for something to cull.


Comments always are welcome.

53 thoughts on “A Gull Contemplates Life On The Edge

    1. So true. They can be loud, and demanding, and sometimes quite annoying, but they’re also great acrobats, willing to have their photos taken, and amusing as can be. Not only that, they seem to enjoy rainy afternoons, and can be found out and about when other birds have sheltered.

  1. Gulls are like grackles (and possums, raccoons, and coyotes), highly adaptable generalists who will eat practically anything. Like any wild thing, they are savagely beautiful.

    1. “Highly adaptable generalists” pretty much covers it. Old bread? Sure. French fries? Even better. Baby ducks? Why not? I was suprised to learn they’ll play carnivore from time to time, but so do other non-raptor birds, like shrikes. So, we appreciate them for what they are — and they certainly can be fun to be around.

  2. I have just returned from out bush to hear about the storms in Texas. Trust you and Missy are safe and well.
    As for the gull and poem, simply the delight I’ve come to expect from you :-)

    1. Safe we are, and mightily glad that we’re on the third floor rather than the first. I do think even the first-floor dwellers will be fine. During Hurricane Ike, a historical storm surge brought water just to the edge of their patios, but not inside their homes. The water’s creeping up now, but it would take about a four foot vertical rise to be as bad, and despite everything upstream that’s feeding into the creeks and bayous, then to the lake, I can’t imagine that kind of rise. Of course, I never imagined we’d have what we have, either. We’ll see.

      I’m glad you found my bit of fun enjoyable. A little humor never hurts, I’ve found — even in the midst of quite serious events.

    1. No flying for us — at least, not from either of our airports. Both are closed for the time being, and there’s no specific time being given for their re-opening. Boats are the preferred means of transport today, or a nice, high-profile vehicle. Those who have boats are being asked to help with evacuations, and everyone else is is being begged to just stay home. I’ve taken a couple of photos of the rising water here, and would be willing to roam a little father afield on foot, but it won’t stop raining. So, I wait.

    1. I suspect I know where this one is hiding. There’s a huge pavilion down by the bay where I took its photo. They have parties there, and fishing tournaments, and concerts. It has a nice palm thatch roof, and sturdy beams — the perfect place for birds to ride out a storm. If I were a bird, I’d go there!

    1. Safe I am, right here at home. Things are bad, but I didn’t realize how bad they might be until I looked out the window and saw this. I have more photos of him once he made it to land, but he took off again, and there’s no telling where he came from or where he’ll end up. The ducks certainly were giving him a wide berth.

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts, Melissa. There are a lot of people in need of good thoughts at this point. In fact, I just lost power — so I’m going to turn this off, and start prepping for a really uncomfortable stretch. What I’m yearning for? Electricity.

      1. May it be restored quickly. It is amazing how much we miss electricity when it is absent, isn’t it? Storms have knocked out our power a few times up here in recent years and the days go by so slooowwly! Is the rain continuing to fall down there? The reports we see on the news are pretty overwhelming.

        1. It was restored, after only a few hours. It went off again, but only temporarily. The water’s as high as it was yesterday, but at my place that’s partly rain and partly drainage from upstream. It is still raining, but it looks like the days of 12″ accumulations may be over. We’re projected to get only seven inches today, and maybe an inch or two tomorrow as the system moves away. That would be good.

            1. What’s even more amusing, in a dark sort of way, is that another little system may develop for next week. The mets I follow say, “There might be twelve inches of rain with that system.” When I mentioned that to a friend, she said, “Oh. Whatever…” The good news is that more rain’s at least a week away, so the bayous and such can drain before it arrives.

            2. I’ve been away~ I hope those 12″ did not materialize. When we had our flooding this summer another big storm was predicted but, thankfully, fizzled into drizzle and faded away.

  3. What a gorgeous picture. Just the right color/textures/crips designs and patterns of feathers set against the green and grey.
    There’s probably a whole flock of them hanging out in the parking lots of Target and Randall’s wondering where their snacks are today.
    Hope you and yours are fine – dry here, but soggy for outdoor walks ( and the cat smirks)

    1. Well. We lost power, but now we have power. I’m counting my blessings, believe me — not to mention making coffee and charging up every device in sight. Then, I’ll call the panic-stricken kinfolks and chit-chat for a while before it goes out again — since I have no doubt that it will.

      I took the photo at the Topwater in San Leon. They weren’t open, of course. They’d shoved all of the cookers, filet tables, and such into the palapa, and it looked to us that they were surviving pretty well. They may get a little water inside, but they prepped for that when they rebuilt after Ike.

      There were some other little birds that were cute beyond words, but I dont’ remember seeing them before, and I didn’t know what they were. I counted over fifty mallards over here today. Either they decided to get together and throw a party, or the early arrivals are swinging in.

      We’ve got a couple more days to get through — tell the critters I said to go easy on you.

  4. Linda, I’m glad to see that Harvey hasn’t blown away your sense of humor! Yes, I imagine it would be most difficult being a gull. I guess they, too, have to wait for the storm to blow itself out before they can get back to doing gull-things. Glad to hear you’re safe. You’re in my prayers, my friend!

        1. Your prayers must be efficacious. The power’s back on. Now I can return phone calls and chat for a while, especially with my aunt. An email or text will do in a pinch, but they don’t make her happy. She wants to talk, doggone it! So we’ll talk, and she’ll feel better.

          Some new areas are flooding now, and people I know are moving to their second floors. Still, it’s better than having to be plucked off the roof. The quote of the day came from a nursing home resident who had to be evacuated. As she put it, “And they told me I was done having adventures!”

  5. It’s four thirty pm here on sunday, and I’ve been watching via internet – sketchy bits and pieces, images, youtubes – all show very serious few days ahead in addition to what’s already arrived. In Costa Rica I remember getting 30 inches in one week, but I cannot imagine the intense rain falling for so long… Suffice to know – whenever you have power again – that you and the ‘Pachamama Birders/Naturalists’ and everyone in the entire state of Texas are in my thoughts. Most likely Louisiana will be next and then my own family in Arkansas and Mississippi.
    You, of course, will be soaking it all in and finding the most positive way to endure the crisis.

    1. I’ve been blessed with a quick return of power. After Ike we were back online within a day or so. I have suspected that it has to do with us being hooked in with the two nursing homes across the street and one of the biggest hotels/conference centers in the area. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful.

      Did you know that one member of the birding group — Chris — lives in Santa Fe? That area’s received some of the worst of it. In fact, I saw that a CoCoRaHS member in Santa Fe posted a rain total of 27″ — maybe a bit more. She just joined the network, so that might well be her reading.

      Over in Brazoria County, where I hang out a good bit, their latest problem is that the evacuation routes are flooding — and there aren’t many options. When the rivers start to come up, it’s going to be a real mess. But, we’ll cope. This is the time to stay out of the way of people doing the rescuing. Then we can help as the rebuilding starts.

      1. It’s so great to receive your update, and I’ve also been wondering how the birding group ‘gals’ are doing. Thanks for the information about dear sweet Chris.
        You are so right about the evacuation problems – hopefully the skies will clear sooner than predicted. You are also right about staying out of the way; that’s what i did after the earthquake, as I felt that I’d just be one more person in need of food,water, etc if i tried to help.

    1. Thanks, Tina. I saw that you’re having problems, too: not only Austin, but Bastrop and Caldwell counties, and probably other areas. Under normal conditions, a foot of rain or more in your area would be in our news, but just now we’ve other things on our mind! I hope we all get a chance to dry out and begin enjoying the outdoors again — soon!

  6. Very sporty-looking gull, he doesn’t look too fussed by this huge storm. If nobody is casting bread upon the waters for him right now, looks like he’ll have to settle for salad.
    Glad to hear you’re on the third floor, and I hope the people with boats get everybody to somewhere dry. Boy, Texas does not do anything by half measures.

    1. There are no words for how bad it is at this point, and the number of boats involved in rescues is amazing. There are plenty of Texans with flat-bottom boats around, of course, and they’re putting them to good use. The Cajun Navy’s come over from Louisiana, too, and those folks know how to do search and rescue.

      The water outside my place had gone down by three or four feet or even a bit more this morning, but it’s been putting down several inches an hour since about noon, and it’s back up. The ground’s so saturated now that trees are going to start going if we get wind, and that will mean more power losses. Fingers crossed, and extra coffee made!

  7. I’m glad your power is back. Or was. Who knows now. I feel glued to the telly, worried about you and others, both for life, limb and property. I’m glad you are high-up. I hope high enough. Seeing that poem, that gull, the news footage… it reminds me of what terror good ol’ Mother Nature can bring upon us. Stay cozy. Hope you have plenty of cat food…

    1. The power left again, very briefly, but now is on again. There are a lot of buried lines around here, which helps, and by some stroke of good luck all the palms and oaks were trimmed recently, so if the wind comes up, falling branches will be less likely to take out lines.

      I realized at the last minute that I’d forgotten extra cat food. I took care of that, believe me. Otherwise, I can carry on for a week easily. After that, there would be inconveniences, but there’s no inconvenience like losing your house, or being displaced for months and months. I’ve been there, and prefer not to do it again — but some of my friends will be in that position this time around.

      I must say, one advantage of working on boats is that, in a storm like this, the boats rise, then fall — and then are ready for me to go back to work. Ike was different. I lost several customers with that one because their boats were destroyed. I don’t think that will be a problem with this one.

  8. I’m amazed that you even have power, Linda— that you can still post. It doesn’t sound like it will end soon. And then there will be the massive clean-up. I’m not at Burning Man. Peggy reached me out on the edge of the desert, in Cedarville. The sheriff had just been by. Our house is under a Level 1 fire alert. Forest fires are raging around us, some within three miles. We’ve done the walkthrough, trying to figure out what treasures we would carry with us. Not many. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. –Curt

    1. It’s amazing that Houston’s done as well as it has re: power outages. There were around 300,000 at one point, but now it’s roughly 108,000. I’m served by Texas New Mexico, and in my city there are 3 outages affecting 222 people. Part of the problem for Houston is that they can’t get in to the affected areas because of flooding, but they’re doing what they can.

      I am so sorry to hear about the fire threat. I wish we could send you some of our rain, believe me. Three miles sounds entirely too close for my comfort. and “raging” doesn’t inspire much confidence, either. Is the fire named, so I can track it?

      That walkthrough is a tough one. That’s one reason I keep my little “treasure bag” packed and ready to go come June or July. As I age, there are fewer things that I feel I have to take with me, but there are some. Why do so many have to be books!

      There was one slighly poignant but also amusing event yesterday that I’ll post about on my other blog. Let’s just say I finally got my deer, too!

      1. Was it Frost who wrote the poem about the world ending in ice or fire? Maybe it’s time to change it to water or fire.

        Our walkthrough is done and our bags are packed. It should fit in the pickup truck easily. I have the van filled with Burning Man stuff. :)

        Books are my big downfall, my greatest weakness, beyond Peggy, of course. The rest, minus a few art pieces could go without too much trouble.

        It’s called the Burnt Peak fire of the Miller Complex. Our home is located up near Applegate Lake.

        Have to check out the deer story, but it may be after Burning Man. –Curt

  9. Good to have the power for sure. Here in Florida Wilma took down 98 percent of the power grid and we were out for weeks, gas stations without generators (most) couldn’t pump gas…..and yet it didn’t seem as bad as what you are having now.

    I appreciate looking out at the bay along with that gull…and the humorous poetic expression. I don’t know where gulls go during a hurricane, but I understand that the brave Ibis is the last to leave and the first to return. At least here in Florida…one reason it is U of M’s mascot.

    Be well!! And best to Texas.

    1. It’s true that storms are qualitatively different, isn’t it? Ike was all wind and surge, and the devastation was quite different from what we’re experiencing now. Even though Harvey was windy down the coast, it’s been mostly a flood event here. People compare it to Allison, because we don’t have anything else to compare it to, but it’s different from Allison. I suppose there are going to be myriad papers written comparing and contrasting the two storms in the decades to come.

      Poor Wilma — no one talks much about her any more. Katrina’s flooding and Rita’s ghastly evacuation are most-remembered, it seems. That was quite a year: Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. I guess Harvey is proving the truth of the old adage: it only takes one.

      1. That is true and that is what insurance risk is about…the potential for just one. Think of Andrew back in 92, geeze that one changed so many things…..permitting and roof attachment rules etc. That is good but frustrating when the insurance companies come and do inspections and take away all the mitigating credits THEY gave you and double or triple your rates until you can afford to replace things that really work fine because of new rules and/or no labels saying they comply. I can’t wait until we can get a new roof, be compliant and get better rates. Even though the only time I even like the word Compliance was when it was said in the movie Flight of the Navigator. It was cute there.

        1. Compliance is a word we’ve heard a lot, in another context. Actually, it’s “comply” that we hear, as in, “Comply with the authorities when they tell you to stay home.” There always are people who want to get in their cars for the sole purpose of riding around to see what’s happening. Heaven knows I understand the impulse, but I’m not about to put myself, my car, or rescuers at risk.

          The wind’s out of the north this morning — the system’s moving, albeit slowly. We’ve already passed the 40″ mark here. I’ll be just as happy not to make a run at 50″.

          1. Comply with authorities, comply with insurance requirements…what’s a rebel to do?
            Wishing you the very best as you weather this flooding, 40″ + that’s a lot!!! Stay safe!!

  10. Amazing you still have internet, Linda. I just read that the dams are releasing billions of litres of water warning people to be aware waters in many areas will rise even further. People are advised to hang towels outside so rescuers will know people are still inside and need to be rescued.

    I hope you are playing it safe, Linda. I have this image of you perched on a roof-top waving to a passing helicopter.
    More rain is expected!

    We had a nasty frost here last night and I fear for our Clivias that are full of buds.

    1. Not only do I have internet, Gerard, I still have coffee, air conditioning, and dry feet. I’m so blessed. Staying put was exactly the right decision for me. Other friends, who evacuated, made their own right decisions, since their houses are flooded and/or inaccessible now.

      The advice about the bedsheets or towels has really been helpful. The Coast Guard and Army still are performing rescues. With new flooding predicted, and escape routes cut off, we’re not done with this yet. It’s still raining, but we may get less than a foot today. I suppose we could call that progress.

  11. Somehow I missed the notice for this post. I always try to look off to the right for titles of posts as I read any post on your blog. The gull pic is a good one. I like gulls and some folks find then annoying but I thing that are interesting birds.

    I hope all continues to go well for you, power and no flooding. Take care. You are in my thoughts.

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