|Laughing Gulls - "Brown chicken Brown Cow!"|
On the shore of the beaches of Ft. De Soto, we ran into a typical visitor and one that we normally wouldn't get too excited about. Here we had a laughing gull, who did look dapper in his breeding plumage with the full black head and bright red bill. But it was what he was with that was most interesting. We all know gulls are quite the scavengers and seem to always be harassing people or other birds for food. So it's no surprise to see a gull munching on something. But this one Laughing Gull had something in his bill that he couldn't quite get down, and he was struggling to find a way to consume it.
I watched for a few minutes trying to figure out what this gull was playing with. Was it a fish? Was it a crab? What was this strange thing that the gull was having such a hard time with eating? Oh my gosh, it was a SEAHORSE! I've seen a number of seahorses in zoos and aquariums, but never in the wild. And I never would have expected to see one like THIS!
|"The head is a little oddly shaped..."|
|"Maybe if I start from the tail?"|
The tough, spiny body and odd shape of this poor little seahorse made it quite difficult for the Laughing Gull to swallow. Once I alerted Nick to this strange sight, we watched the gull trying to gulp the seahorse for what seemed like about 20 to 30 minutes. The gull just kept tossing it up and trying to swallow it whole, but then he couldn't do it and would spit it back out. The gull just kept flipping around this seahorse, which was probably already dead for a while, and trying to eat it, but without success. The scene reminded me of when an acrobat in an old-timey circus tumbles another acrobat with his legs, flipping his partner back and forth landing on her hands, then her legs, and then back again.
|Laughing Gull STILL trying to eat a Seahorse|
|"Perhaps I can be of some assistance."|
We couldn't believe our eyes that we were looking at an actual seahorse not enclosed in a glass aquarium. I'm still perplexed as to how the gull obtained the seahorse. Maybe it was already dead and floating on the water? And we couldn't believe the persistence of this gull! One other Laughing Gull did finally catch on that there was a morsel in the midst and tried to get in on the action. But he looked just as bewildered on how to eat this unwieldy thing as the first gull!
The Laughing Gull let us get pretty close to him, just as long as we weren't going after his tasty meal. At one point, it even seemed like he was even flaunting his little treat. Or maybe he was trying to seek advice or help regarding how to eat it.