Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Plowing with the Gulls

With wildlife rehabilitation being non-for-profit I need to work to pay my bills. I work in agriculture. Today I found myself on a tractor plowing up a field of corn stubble. Plowing is an art form. I am not a plowing artist, but I can turn a field (so to speak).

Unlike some other tractor jobs, plowing requires focus as you constantly need to monitor plow depth and width, changes in the soil as well as make sure to lift the plow at the end of your row (before you drive into the creek), turn and drop the plow again just at the right time, but my mind and eyes still wander.

Today I enjoyed a family of beavers who where very busy floating corn stalks across the creek. I am not sure why (corn stalks don't make much of a dam), but it was fun to watch them be busy beavers.
Most of the day I had the company of a large flock of Mourning Doves. They where eating the bugs exposed by the soil turning action of the plow, but about mid day a huge flock of Ring Billed Gulls showed up and scared off the doves.

I was really distracted by the hug flock of Gulls as they swooped down in front and behind me and I promptly plugged up the plow with corn stocks.


Being that I had to get off the tractor anyway to clear away the packed corn stalks. I  took a picture of the Gulls enjoying some bugs.


These guys made me think of the poor Herring Gull currently residing at our Refuge. He suffered a broken wing and was found by people who tried to help him, but unfortunately did not seek professional help.

He was kept in a bird cage for several weeks before he was surrendered to authorities. The broken wing has healed pretty good, but he still has a slight droop in that wing. Under normal circumstances I would flight test him and make my decisions accordingly, but the confinement to a birdcage has seriously damaged his flight feathers and his tail. Someone has also cut off all his secondary flight feathers on his one wing with scissors. The missing and damaged feathers will prevent this guy from being able to fly for some time. This means this Gull is one of our winter guests and hopefully he will re-grow his feathers come spring time. Hopefully he will be sound in flight at that time so that we can release him.

We have already successfully rehabbed two other injured Herring Gulls this year. They are big birds with a 5' wing span. They are very difficult eaters, but luckily our dive tank and some fish does the trick. I also learned the hard way that Herring Gulls vomit (like some other birds) when stressed. I mean VOMIT!

I was completely covered in Gull Puke this summer just when a new volunteers walked in for his first shift. Nothing like the smell of rotting fish...

Injured Herring Gull

Herring Gull Release
Today my Gull thoughts where abruptly interrupted at that moment... a high pressure fuel line blew on the tractor. Diesel fuel was spewing all over the hot engine block of the tractor and I had to rush back to the farm (before the whole thing caught fire) and fix the hose.

Happy Plowing Everyone...


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