Did you ever get a message in a bottle? Completely meaningless gibberish from an entirely unknown guy (from my experience, it’s always a guy, looking like a lumberjack and that’s okay) that, strangely enough, makes you insanely excited?

If not, you must try gulling. At the height of this winter, I was staring into many pinkish legs, looking for those with some cheap plastic jewellery… Scoping squabble after squabble of gulls at the city rubbish tip, I have already read five colour rings with large letters… gibberish, I am telling you… wait, there’s one more!

But this one has only one ring (to rule them all?), a small and barely visible metal ring, the type usually read only when the bird is mist-netted or found already dead.

Pity, I think and a moment before I moved the scope to the next pair of legs, I thought wait, let’s zoom in, maybe I could read something… and from the scanning 25x I roll to the reading 60x… shining metal… but when the bird turns slightly, I can read the ends of three lines: “…eum” (this is easy – museum), “…ha” and “…200”. Well, that was it, should I move on… or not, let’s wait a bit more…

After a while, my gull moves a bit and now I can read the beginnings of those lines: “n.m…”, “p…” and “et…”!

And now I wait. To read it all, or for the gull to take flight, whichever comes first.

But my gull has refined manners of a true gentleman and shows me the middle section of those lines. Let’s not forget, those letters are smaller than these you are reading right now and I read them from some 25 or so metres through the truly magnificent Swarovski 25-60×65 STX!

And then all the gulls took flight! Which didn’t matter anymore because I was already high on endorphin.

The next day I found out that about 750 km / 470 mi north from here, in Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, Ivan Miksik, one of the most active Czech ringers sent this message in January, two years ago. And I was the first one to read it.

I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Cover photo by Snezana Panjkovic
Verses by Sting

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Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Central America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66