Monday 27 July 2015



Gulls divebomb each other,
squabble over perching rights
on chimney pots,
throw back their heads
in raucous chorus,
rip rubbish sacks to shreds,
steal chicks from nests
and eat them on the roofs
then launch into the sky
to soar on thermals,
sharp white wings
against the blue.

At this time of the year, gulls become very protective of their fledgeling young. From our flat we can hear their raucous calls for much of the day and they often chase each other and squabble over food. This is actually quite entertaining, though our neighbours who put up a birdfeeder on their third floor windowsill, soon took it back in again when they found their windowsill a gathering point for the local gulls.

This year, the behaviour of gulls has caused an outcry at national level. There are tales of dogs being killed, a tortoise been killed (and a rabbit being traumatised after witnessing the attack). Calls for culling are repeated across the country and David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister is calling for a big conversation about gulls

For a while the media unthinkingly jumped on this bandwagon, without thinking that a) this is natural behaviour, gulls are only protecting their young and their increased activity only happens for a couple of weeks, b) humans, by providing attractive feeding opportunities, such as overflowing bins in the streets, landfill sites full of rich food pickings, foolish people who feed bread straight to the gulls, are causing gulls to increasingly come into towns, where they become perceived as nuisances. 

Luckily, there have been some articles in defence of gulls:

One of the things that people forget is that gulls are declining in their natural, coastal environments just as they are increasing in more urban areas. As noted above, we're effectively responsible for deciding that they prefer living in towns, where the food is easy. Plus we seem to have forgotten that nature isn't always 'nice' and peaceful' but it is also red in tooth and claw. 

Of course I feel sympathy for the people who have lost pets to gulls, or who have been threatened themselves, but to put it into context, how many people are attacked by pet dogs every year? (Actually I've lost the number, but it's a lot lot more than are attacked by gulls). 


eileeninmd said...

Wow, I have never heard of a gull attacking a dog. It is a shame the gulls have such a bad reputation and just from protecting their young. I hope something can be worked out and have a happy ending! Enjoy your new week!

RG said...

What's a beach without gulls?

Pietro Brosio said...

Very fine poem.
Have a pleasant Tuesday!

Lowcarb team member said...

Gulls are best seen by the sea ... but in these times habits are changing, and yes easy to come by foods will bring them into towns.

Lets hope something can be worked out.

Hope your week is going well.

All the best Jan

Bill said...

Our division of nature into good guys and bad guys is more than a little absurd, to be sure. I like your poem, especially its interrupted, indirect move skyward.