Tuesday, 10 October 2017

fly by

I wanted to get the Skyline report out pronto so I skipped over Saturday's entertainments: as part of a week long taper for the race on Sunday, which I think was reasonably good preparation, I opted for a small cycle to Cramond and a chat with the birds. Most of the chat was about bread, and some was about photography. None of it was about running.

The birds, Black Headed Gulls (in their winter plumage which doesn't involve the titular black heads) know the formula and are quick to fall into a pattern. I turn up at the estuary near the flagpole, padlock my bike and get out a bag of bread. They assemble on the water close by and start flying in a large clockwise circle, while I stand by the small wall and chuck bread into the air. It never hits the sea.

"Is this bread at least 50% wholemeal and with lots of seeds", they ask, for they have been on the internet and know that nasty white bread is bad for their chakras. "Why, yes it is", I reply, "but just in case anyone is watching I have only brought about three slices cut into fingers and anyone hogging the handouts will be sent to the back of the queue". "Yeah", one replies, "we hate that nasty white bread", and winks.

After a bit we all have a rest and wait for the sun to come out again.

I had originally planned to try out some of the features on my new TZ100 while taking pics of the birds. There is a 4K photo mode where you can shoot a short amount of 4k video then flip through the stills to choose the perfectly timed photo. This seemed the sort of situation appropriate to experiment in this mode, however the reality was that I could have done with an assistant. I was breaking off bits of bread with my left hand, or just holding a stick of bread out for the gulls who would peck a bit off the end often pecking my fingers too, and trying to aim and shoot the camera in my right hand. Timing wasn't that vital as the gulls were more than happy to repeat the process until I ran out of bread, and I just shot loads of pics knowing that although many would be less than ideal, there would be the occasional lucky image.

It was a reminder that the birds really do work on a different timescale to us sluggish humans. They stood and watched from the little wall near to where I was standing. I could break off a bit of bread and throw it in their direction. Their reactions and on-board computers were so quick they could judge the trajectory of the snack and launch off the wall, catching the bread mid-air, nimbly in their neat beaks. Time and again. And when flying in a group they rarely collided. They seemed aware of each other in the air, although they would also call out a harsh squawk if someone got in the way or loitered on the wing, taking up their airspace.

I think this juv gull was wondering why she had to sit down right there to have her photo taken making him feel all self conscious while having his pic taken.

That gull has no foot!
(How can he stand it?)

On the cycle home I stopped to take photos of the Granton Riviera.



with kayaker

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