Twenty-five thousand adult flamingo couples are summering in the salt marshes of southern France, the largest number since naturalists began counting them forty-five years ago. Over 60,000 flamingoes total—12,000 babies so far. They are harmless to man and beast, eating only krill, tiny saltwater organisms they filter through their beaks in a system not so different from what baleen whales use the filter small fish, krill, copepods, and zooplankton from the sea. The whale babies look just like their parents.
We appear like or unlike our parents, can be trusted or not trusted even by them to do what is expected. Most living things gather.
A group of ravens can be called many things. Here, the term “conspiracy” of ravens works for me. (I have never appreciated the term “unkindness of ravens”). The two raven youngsters look just like their parents—one has a fluffy head and is slightly bigger, but that might be one of the youngsters.
They are still hanging around together, though one of the adults sometimes wanders off on scouting missions.
Gary broke up a leftover waffle and some crumbs and put them out on the sand at the beginning of our walk the other day. The ravens stuck around long enough to say thank you.
We spotted the black oystercatcher youngster with its parents the other day at the north end of our beach. I did not zoom to catch which of the three was the child, but it didn’t really matter. I snapped the photo in the fog as we passed at a distance. We’re just grateful the baby is doing so well.
We are careful not to approach birds resting on the sand. If they are not flying, they likely want their rest, but it’s tricky for them with so many loose dogs. A photographer deliberately frightened dozen of birds off the sand just to get a photo of them flying.
That’s not as bad as the people trying to “rescue” baby seals (highly illegal and often fatal for the seal pup left onshore by its mother) or young eagles (disturbing any member of an “aerie of eagles” is also illegal and dangerous for the fool trying to “rescue” one). Or the man throwing a ball for his dogs into the surf in an outgoing tide. [This is why Gary does not like me to go with him when he gets the mail. He says I bark at people—I did bark at that man with the throwing stick. “They’re hunting dogs,” he said. “They trust you,” I responded. I saw a dog rolled right under waves, come out of the surf and absolutely refuse to go back in again. The dog was smarter than the owner.]
The wild things are right not to trust us, to focus a wary eye on our movements. We are not of their group, not trustworthy or predictable and kind. The wild rabbits (a nest) nibbling rose hips in our the front yard, the jays (a party) cruising through, the garter snakes (a bed), and gulls (a colony) and know to avoid us.
We try not to disturb the wildlife. When we must pass birds onshore, we walk steadily, avert our eyes, and direct ourselves away, away!