Whilst not wishing to diminish the sometimes devastating impact of living in close proximity to large flocks of gulls, (they have been known to physically attack people and fatally injure animals) I sometimes wonder if I am the only person in the world who has a good word to say for the much maligned seagull (a generic name to describe different types of gull). Variously, and reasonably, described as aggressive, scavenging and evil, these intelligent creatures are known to be diligent and caring parents. They are also incredibly loyal and a distress call by one gull will attract support from many others. We may not like the resulting onslaught of angry birds but what’s not to admire there? And how magnificently these handsome birds (for the gull is an extremely attractive specimen with its snow-white and silver grey plumage), gracefully hover, dip and swoop.
Their range of complex calls are incredibly evocative of childhood holidays and happy seaside days spent with my own children. I had a liking for the sound they made then and I still do. Whilst other students at university complained of unasked for early morning wake up calls, I loved to watch them congregate noisily along the banks of the River Severn.
The seagulls in Bowness are bold in the extreme, totally unfazed by the influx of visitors and they think nothing of swooping down to the edge of the lake to steal not only the inadvertently dropped chips and ice creams but to swipe food directly out of the hands of unsuspecting holidaymakers. This behaviour isn’t inherent so perhaps we should look to ourselves for the reasons. We’ve decimated the oceans, strewn our pavements with the detritus of late night fast food and provided a feast of unprecedented proportions by our reckless land-fill wastefulness.
There are calls for culling though urban gulls are currently protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It may not, in any case, be necessary; there exists seven species of gull common to the UK and it may surprise you to hear that their declining number of most of them is of concern to conservationists.
How rare the opportunity to photograph from above a bird in flight. This seagull picture was taken by my husband in Stockholm a couple of years ago.