The famous seagulls of beautiful Matsushima bay fly along at full wingspan just within touching distance. This particular bird was staring right at the food I was holding in my hand. As I was commenting on the grace and poise of a bird in full flight, he landed next to me and gave me that look you see in the photo below. (double click the photo to get full effect.) A look obviously saying;
“Hey… how do you want to do this? are you throwing the food, or are you gonna hand it to me? Either way, I’m going to peck your eyes out for taking so long.”
I have a soft spot for seagulls because the first book I ever read was Jonathan Livingston Seagull, about a seagull who focuses on perfecting flying techniques instead of doing normal seagull things. For a small boy growing up in the landlocked Midwest, an ocean going seagull is a somewhat rare bird to see.
The Matsushima gulls know that people on the boat have food and they hang around hoping to get a hand out. The birds fly along at about the same speed as the ship and try to grab the food out of the air as people throw it.
Watching a seagull at full wingspan flying 35mph and maneuvering to catch food in midair, is one of the most beautiful and graceful displays of aerial acrobatics you can ever see. To watch it right in front of your face is an amazing show.