By The Beautiful Sea

Not long ago Boyfriend and I went to the beach, and as the waves were too gentle for him (a surfer), and as the ocean had been a stingy matron refusing to part with any shells and as it was a grey and
 misty morning – we retired to a piece of driftwood and watched the birds.


This might sound like a  diversion as dreary as the day, but I am convinced that there is nothing as foolish and dignified as a seabird.  We love photographing them.  These are the pelicans that we saw that day:


 They have thick, clumsy bodies, but they are beautiful flyers, and when they discern a fishy shadow 40 feet down, they will dive straight down.

Spear Fishing

 Sometimes, islands of kelp are washed ashore, and for some reason this attracts egrets.  Their feathers are now safe from hats and fans so they are content to take leisurely walks through the decaying country that appeals to them so much.

No Egrets

 Their chaste whiteness, brutally pure as arsenic, stands out on the brown and sandy shore, but they are not afraid:

Straddling Kelp

 We see cormorants too.  They are graceless, but amusing.  Their feathers are not waterproof, so once ashore they will hold their wings aloft, to dry in the sun.  They are timid, but I was able to get fairly close:

Stationary Silhouette

 All shorebirds are beautiful – even those with their Cyrano-like beaks, running towards the wet sand to hunt for nibbly-bits, before scurrying back to the dryness when the tide comes in.  In between meals, they whistle and trill in an atonal song:

Serene By The Sea

 Seagulls are loud, greedy, rude, and not very smart.  I find them charming, and more than once their loudness, greed, rudeness and/or stupidity has made me laugh out loud.  In the air they navigate the invisible currents with invention and grace.  On land they are content to look heavy and smug. 

I Can't Be Bothered

 And they will steal your sandwich if you’re not careful.  I have witnessed this.

Don't Gull Me

Seabirds remind me of mermaids – wretched and clumsy on the sand, but transformed once they reach their desired world.  No bird is content on the ground.  But once aloft, they spin, soar, glide, dive and negotiate the feisty breezes that tickle their feathers.

They stay on the beach for only a short while  before leaving.  And I can’t help but wonder what visions they see on their blue journeys,  through fogs and salty clouds, past unknown tides, what silver creatures they witness glittering through the water like scattered pearls.  I wonder about the stories they come back with, when they reach land once more, trapped behind their black, uncommunicative eyes.    

Bye Bye Birdie


21 responses to “By The Beautiful Sea

  1. Wonderful tryst by the sea with birds…

  2. I love this post. I love watching the sea birds also, and always try to capture them in flight with my camera. I collect vintage photos of seagulls–there’s something about their cry that makes me sentimental about home, so they are, to me, the epitome of California, the essence of the Pacific.

  3. What a beautiful post – and a beautiful day by sea. A day very well spent!

  4. Great pics. I really like seabirds — and love watching the pelicans when we’re walking along the beach.

  5. You should be writing narration for Richard Attenborough’s next nature series. I could just imagine this post read in his voice.

  6. For no particular reason, I believe it’s good luck to have pelicans fly over me.

  7. I love birds! I love seeing them and hearing them and seeing pictures of them and reading about them!

    Lol, no egrets!

  8. This waterbaby dug this post and you’re right, seagulls are content to look heavy and smug. At the nearby park where I occasionally feed the gulls, there’s one that’s a beefier version of your “I Can’t Be Bothered” gull above and oh my the squawks that erupt from his bill!! Clearly he is the don with first dibs on all foods. Rude obnoxious critters they be but as scavengers they do the sea a great service, gulls.

  9. I like the photos and the observations.
    I wonder these days where the cranes are, normally telling “its autumn” or “it s spring”.Would be the first time, I missed them. Well, they still might come.

  10. Pelicans look like they should not be able to fly. I really love the spear fishing shot.

  11. Pure as arsenic…..I think I will always remember that now when I see an egret. Poison and beauty are so close at times. You might want to read Eye of the Albatross. The author makes a good case for the idea that if humans could fly, we would be albatrosses.

  12. I love the little spindly-legged birds that dart in and out of the water.

  13. They are grace incarnate. My sister is a shore birder on the Carolina coasts. I love Sandpipers and wish I could remember the rhyme I knew as a child.

  14. “Nibbly-bits!” I love it those words together. (of all your words, I pick up on these? Yes.)
    Seashore? You have seashore? Oh lovely lofty setting.
    I have learned however to love the landed birds. Just took a class on nature journaling. It had never occurred to me to sketch as I wrote. Now throwing that into the mix.

    I love your pictures though. Please throw some kisses at the ocean for me next time you’re there.

  15. So beautiful, Aubrey! I feel like I’ve spent a much needed day at the beach in very good company.

  16. What a beautiful post. It was like reading poetry. Your photography of teh birds you write about is fantastic!

  17. Your writing is as beautiful as ever, but those pictures are amazing! I love the picture of the nosedive.

  18. What a beautiful post! We live in two different worlds, as you can witness from my post Winter in November. How I admire your seaside sightings of those wonderful birds. The one nose diving is spectacular… you’re one talented photographer and writer.

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