In Queens Park today (time better spent there than in some Den Of Iniquity sloshing down the fruits of the brewer’s looms) I was




to observe an exemplar of naval-convoy art. No destroyer captain in WW2 kept better watch or better station that what I observed.

Let me set you the scene, but first a hysterical background (Argus, shouldn’t that be ‘historical’?—Ed)

… oops, but first a historical background: last year I watched a masterpiece of instinctive evasion tactics employed against diving seagulls by newly hatched ducklings. The gulls were circling the pond and doing wing-overs followed by diving passes on unsuspecting ducklets out in mid ocean. But when just within snaffle reach the duckling concerned simply disappeared. As in vanished. It finally occurred to this embaffled old poop that ducklings have a ‘diving reflex’ of their own (and very good it is too).

But I digress. Today in the park I was on the lesser populated far side of the pond when I saw a lurking bunch of villainous gulls atop a mini-cliff. So? Gulls are allowed—free country and all that.

I walked further around to where I saw a whole squadron of seaborne ducklings approaching en masse—

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—their course would take them right under the very beaks of a gang of ambuscading gulls. Not good.

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Not good. All those innocents at risk and ol’ Argie now confronted with a moral dilemma: intervene, or let Nature take her course? After all, those gulls have a right to live too …

But from a commanding position and with rangefinders trained upon sitting ducks (as it were) they held their fire. Phew~!

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And then I saw why. Birdbrains they may be, but gulls aren’t totally stupid.

What they had noticed but I hadn’t yet seen, was that those ducklings weren’t alone … clue: have you ever seen or heard a Mama duck defending her young, and a Poppa duck likewise?

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Obviously these seagulls have— which possibly explains their nonchalance in the shot above (although one gull is still wistfully strobing the convoy).

Poppa Duck shepherded close astern, Mama Duck came along the base of the cliffs right under the very beaks of the gulls—you can just see her between the three RHS gulls quietly discussing the outrageous price of fish these days (and blaming it on global warming).


that I was privileged to witness this—and for a display of sheer chutzpah, superb convoying, seamanship, threat and intelligent appraisal coupled with use of scarce resources … this display couldn’t be matched by any naval college. (But Argie, the Challenge? —Ed)


Not all boundaries are visible.

There were very clear boundaries established in this event; invisible boundaries honoured in full by the participants.

I was privileged to see those invisible boundaries at work.





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