For more than 30 years I lived with my family in Moscow, where I was transferred from Leningrad by the decision of the country's government to head the newly created Main Directorate of one of the nine defense ministries. While creating weapons systems before this transfer to Moscow, I often visited various training grounds in our country, test centers and military units located in the Far North and in other countries.
In my youth, when I was a cadet, I was fond of hunting and fishing, constantly admiring nature in moments of calm, trying to remember for a long time the amazingly beautiful pictures of our north and the Volga delta. But the picture that I saw on the Day of the Navy on the embankment of the Smolenka River in St. Petersburg amazed me very much.
Our granddaughter Nastya came to visit us from Moscow to see St. Petersburg, the large and wide river Neva, the opening of bridges, visit the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, take a walk in the Summer Garden, and admire Nevsky Prospekt in the evening. Observing the opening of bridges, I led my granddaughter to the Sphinxes, which are installed on the embankment of the Neva near the Academy of Arts. Here she also admired the ancient griffins, which, according to the established tradition in the city, had to be stroked on the head - then the wishes would come true. A few days later, when we drove along Nevsky Prospekt, I showed her the house where our family lived before the Great Patriotic War and where I was born. She was very struck by the fact that at night on Malaya Konyushennaya Street young people danced to the music of the orchestra. She had never seen anything like this in Moscow. The granddaughter's surprise knew no bounds, everything aroused her delight. When we examined the formation of warships on the Neva and when I told about what systems were created for each of them with my participation, my granddaughter, standing on tiptoe, hugged me. Apparently, she was proud of our Motherland.
We arrived home on Vasilievsky Island across the Tuchkov Bridge, which was raised at night for only one hour to allow a dry cargo ship to pass. We now live in the immediate vicinity of the embankment, a little in the back of the yard. In the morning I suggested taking a walk along the embankment of the Smolenka River. There were practically no people on the embankment. Many went to the city center for festivities and concerts. The flow in the river after the construction of the dam in the Gulf of Finland became very quiet, and the depth also decreased. I remember earlier, when we had just moved to this area from Nevsky Prospekt, a patrol ship had been laid up on Smolenka since the time the fleet was downsized. Yes, there was such a period in the development of our country. At one time, the fleet was reduced, at another period, aviation was reduced. And more recently we did both, but we survived that too. So at the time when we just moved to this area, Smolenka was a clean river, children and adults swam in it. People from new houses came out in swimming trunks and bathing suits, some of them went out to swim, dressed in robes. But it was a luxury that not everyone could afford. It was also possible to swim in the bay, and there was a city beach on the trolleybus loop of route 10. Now only memories are left of this.
I told my granddaughter about the life of our generation, while we quietly walked along the embankment. Suddenly an unusual picture caught my attention. A gray duck with nine ducklings swam along the river, turning over its paws, this company was not afraid of anyone and did not pay attention to anyone. Duck and ducklings often lowered their heads into the water, looking for something there. Above the river, at a height of about eight meters, two small river terns swept by. Flying to the bridge over the river, this is in the area of Korablestroiteley Street, the terns turned around and again swept over the water surface of the river. Sometimes they dived from a height, then jumped out of the water, and everything was repeated. The granddaughter, wide-eyed, looked at this sight.
On the left bank of the river, on a wide granite parapet, we noticed a sitting gray gull of impressive size, and next to it a crow.
An unusual sight. Suddenly the seagull flapped its wings and rose into the air, at once the crow repeated this maneuver. The birds, at a distance of no more than four meters from each other, flew in a large arc and again sat down on the granite parapet in the same place. I asked my granddaughter to look at the opposite bank and pay attention to the seagull and the crow. And the crow at that moment began to approach the seagull and croak softly, stretching out its neck. This made her pose funny, and we both laughed at the same time. The seagull moved a few steps away from the crow, then turned and put food in the open beak of the crow.
We were at a loss, as I had never seen before, that a big gray gull feeding a crow. After eating, the birds again rose into the air and flew around the water surface of the river in a large circle. While they were flying, one of the terns fell into the water and jumped out with a decent fish in its beak. Then she flew to the place on the parapet where the seagull and the crow had just sat, put the fish down and flew away. In a moment, the seagull sat down near the fish left by the tern, pecked at it and swallowed it. A crow flew up to the seagull immediately began to beg for food. But the seagull turned away from the crow and walked along the granite parapet, the crow followed. At the same time, she stretched her neck and croaked softly. The seagull stopped, turned to the raven and gave her food again just like we saw before. A woman and a man began to approach the place where the birds were sitting, they pushed in front of them the baby carriage where the baby was sitting. The birds rose and flew away, we never saw them again.
After seeing my granddaughter to Moscow, I began to look for answers to this interesting story - friendship between a gray gull and a crow, as well as help for terns to them. One of the versions is as follows. In St. Petersburg, gulls began to nest on flat roofs of buildings, and crows sometimes nest here. In other words, an urban “mini-bird bazaar” is formed, where its inhabitants protect each other, feed and live according to laws that are not yet available to us. The parents of the little crow we saw could have died for some reason in the city, and then one of the gray gulls, nesting nearby, took on the role of one of the "parents". There are many examples from living nature, when completely different animals, birds, begin to make friends and take care of each other.
Creating radio navigation systems and managing the radio navigation equipment of the Northern Sea Route, I have repeatedly visited Novaya Zemlya, many islands of the seas of the Arctic Ocean, Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands. Ground stations of radio navigation chains were installed here, so the presence of the development manager was mandatory. The government of the country and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation paid special attention to the work of radio navigation systems. This is observed at the present time. The fascinating picture of bird colonies, the life of their inhabitants, ways of protecting chicks from predators did not leave my harsh colleagues and subordinates indifferent when they performed their main work. Many of them, as I know, then shared what they saw with friends and family. I think their stories to their children and grandchildren about what they observed will remain forever in their memory.