Gull flocks are most common on the North Atlantic coast. During our week here, we saw thousands of gulls of all sizes and colors. There were gray-winged herring-eating gulls and great black-tailed gulls from the Arctic.
At night, in the silence before a storm, we heard a restless cry from the gulls. During the day, when they spot a school of fish, there is a clamor of excitement. They swing their wings slightly, soaring freely in the wind and waves. They know all the tricks of the sea wind and have a way to deal with them. They are "excellent flyers".
On calm days, the gulls sometimes doze on the rocks of the sea. But we rarely see dead gulls. Although there are often gull feathers on the shore and occasionally a gull wing will be found, dead gulls are indeed extremely rare. Some say that the sea rats get rid of the dead gulls before we find them, so maybe that's true.
In all the days we lived on the beach, only once did I see a dying gull. It was a warm, windless afternoon when I spotted a large-bodied herring-eating gull at the top of a large reef on the beach. It seemed to be resting, with its head hanging low and its breast pressed against the rock, like an old man who was spending the rest of his life in sleep. From time to time, the gull struggled to take a few wobbly steps, and then swooped down on the rock again.
Anyone who knows the sea and seagulls knows how seagulls rest. Whether in the water or on the shore, they always rest with their heads into the wind, as if it were a weathervane with better performance than a mechanical weathervane. Because the mechanical weathervane will also be affected by the small air currents and swing. This gull, when I saw it, was facing the wind with its tail, and I knew it must be a very sick gull. The animal will only lose its most common instinct when it is near death. The gull was less than two hundred feet from me. Through my binoculars, I could see that its eyes were almost always closed and its beak was hanging against the rocks.
Throughout that afternoon, the gull had been struggling from time to time, moving a few inches at a time, little by little, toward the edge of the reef. Once it reached the edge, it moved slowly along the sloping rocks toward the water's edge.
Later, a large cat looking for sea rats nearby spotted the gull. It crept towards the gull with its body prostrate and its eyes shining fiercely until I chased it away.
At sunset, the gull rested on a rocky outcrop. When the next tide comes in, it will be close to the head of the tide. The tide will come in a few minutes after midnight. In these last moments of its life, it lifted its head slightly in the face of the gentle north wind, as if looking out to sea.
That afternoon, the gulls kept away from our section of the coast. The diving bird, which likes to live alone, was about to leave the coast for the winter. The cormorants, which usually sunbathe on the smooth rocks with their wings outstretched, were gradually disappearing. The gulls that usually fly west along the coast in the late afternoon also seem to have changed their route, always appearing over the sea far from the coast. I once heard someone say that animals always instinctively seek solitude before they die in order to wait for death to come. It seemed that the gulls avoided this section of the coast to give their dying companions the privilege of enjoying this solemn moment before death alone.
I thus watched it until the night obscured my vision.
During the night, I woke up. The wind had shifted to the northeast and was blowing a cold and damp current from time to time.
I added a woolen blanket to myself. At that moment, I suddenly thought of the dying seagull, what would happen to it?
The rising sunlight told me the end. The gull was lying with its wings spread wide, at the highest point where the water reaches at midnight high tide. It seemed to have tried its best to make one last flight. I was surprised if some instinct made it struggle to climb down the reef to meet the incoming tide. The sea had given it life and nourished it, and now the tide was bringing it a final peace.
The sun was still rising and the gulls were flying over the coast again. A seagull's life is over, and the solemn moments before death have passed, and everything is as it was in the past, as if nothing had happened.
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