Queep Queep

One trip we made more than once was to the Black Rock which lay a mile or so offshore, outlier to Indian Island. This was a major nesting ground for herring gulls and cormorants, (shags, locally) and the familiar herring gulls. There seemed a convention that the shags nested in trees while the gulls laid their eggs on the rock strewn ground. So densely  packed were the nests that it was hard to avoid stepping on them. The shags were too large for the trees whose growth had been stunted by years of droppings. Out of the water shags are ungainly birds and a row perched on the branches of a dead tree looked sinister.

Landing on Indian Island island was a challenge. We had to leave someone on board Sadie because the holding ground was too rocky to trust an anchor and the constant swell threw the boat around in unexpected ways. Landing from a wooden, lapstrake dinghy was tricky and we would have done better with a rubber dinghy. Late in the day the the children decided to bring home a newly hatched herring gull which got named--or named. itself--Queep Queep. Queep Queep needed frequent feeding with raw or partially digested codfish. So finding, chewing and feeding Queep Queepby hand became a major chore.

Queep Queep seemed to thrive, gained weight but the children thought he might never learn to fly without an adult bird arsound.to  give him flying lessons. In his own good time we watched as Queep, went down to the beach and facing into the wind, hopped up and down flapping his wings. He began taking short flights, then longer ones and finally he took off and landed on the ridge of the house, still Queeping. From then on, whenever a herring gull landed on the ridge someone was sure to raise the cry: “it's Queep Queep,come for a visit”.


  1. Thanks for sharing the stories of your life, Simon. They are all gems.


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