A Clever Bird

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DSCF3606I went kayaking on the Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing, just a little north of Monterey, on the weekend. $30 for an all-day boat rental, inclusive of wetsuit, windbreaker and life jacket at Monterey Kayaks; you really can’t ask for a better deal.

The inlet was heaving with seals, otters, sea lions, and their pups, and the whole thing was good fun and superb value for money in spite of a strong tide pushing in, and a strong breeze freshening up during the cause of the day. This makes the first part of the journey really easy, but it turned out to be a good workout coming back. A good thing that I followed the advise of the rental guys and didn’t take too far up on the inlet.

Amidst the sea mammals, the inlet if crowded with birds. Geese, ducks, pelicans, herons, all kinds of water birds, and of course seagulls. In the end, I found myself watching a seagull more than anything, because the bird had discovered a clever hunting strategy:

I sat adrift and enjoyed my sandwich, watching a mother otter and her pup diving for mussels, and suspiciously eyeing the seagull from the corner of my eye. As it turned out, this particular seagull had no interest in my delicious sandwich. Instead, the bird was watching the otters just like I did, but with different intentions.

I don’t think the young otter got any mussels, but back on the surface, the mother opens up some and shares her catch – it’s the cutest thing to watch.

Enter the seagull.

She hassles the otters until they give up and dive away, while dropping their catch. The seagull dives, and enjoys a nutritious shellfish meal.

Clever, ey?

You want to hate the bird, because the bird is nasty and the otters are cute, but I couldn’t help admiring the strategy.


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