Gulls really do get a bad rap – especially in our towns and cities. Every summer we go slightly hysterical as they swoop down to steal ice-creams from toddlers and chips from defenceless OAP’s. ‘Cull them!’ we cry, ‘Something must be done!’
Well, surprise surprise, there is something we can all do. Stop feeding them.
For centuries gulls have associated Man with food – and it is a relationship that works both ways. As fishermen clean their boats and catch, the gulls clean up the mess.
But we are appalling litter louts and are always throwing food away in places where gulls are quick to find it. We dump over flowing bin bags full of scraps on the pavement and whinge when the gulls tuck in. And all the while we should be admiring the gulls for their tenacity and their intelligence – they are seriously resourceful birds.
One, incredibly neat trick that they learn comes during heavy rain. Some gulls will find a patch of grass, lawns are a favourite, and then, having selected a decent spot, will lightly pad their feet on the ground. Low and behold, after a few moments, up pops a worm which is readily gobbled before the process is repeated. (Ed: I can vouch for this FP, as I watch them do exactly this every day from my window!)
It is likely a behaviour more common than we realise, so keep an eye out – it might just help us see gulls in a different light.