I've been incensed by the news that seagulls are being culled in various towns and cities across the UK for being a 'nuisance'. This just illustrates the idiocy of people I'm afraid. Rather than rejoice in the fact that we can experience these majestic wild birds up close, some ridiculous people label them a menace. If you are going to have an ice cream on the promenade (which is within the gull's natural territory after all), then you should expect to provoke the interest of the birds. For goodness sake, it's not rocket science – you wouldn't go into the Serengeti with a joint of beef and complain that you were being attacked by lions.
The various species of gull, whether it's Herring Gulls or the Lesser Black Backed variety, are coming to live in closer proximity to us only because there is an opportunity provided by us for them to thrive. This move to our towns and cities is also thought to be a result of overfishing, by man, in the gulls' traditional feeding grounds out at sea.
So a gull, being a resourceful bird, may show an interest in your food at the seaside.
What do you expect? To see them queueing up at Greggs for a pastie? And while a gull may well have its eye on your fish and chips as you sit looking out to sea, bear in mind that both the Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls are protected species, not only that but both are in serious decline, the former having fallen to 50% of its pre-1970 population.
How can anyone in their right mind think about culling them? It's just another sign of the stupidity and feeble-mindedness of the human race. And it makes me sad and angry.
The same prejudice happened long ago with pigeons, another bird of which I am very fond.
For those who don't know, a quick history of the town pigeon:
They are all descendants of the Rock Dove (Columba livia); originally inhabiting coastal cliffs, they were domesticated by man thousands of years ago primarily as a food source. Apart from the fact that they are eaten the world over, pigeons played a huge part in both World Wars, carrier pigeons saving hundreds of human lives. Many were awarded honours for their service to mankind. Impressive isn't it?
Feral pigeons, the ones we see in our towns and cities, are descendants of these very same birds.
I have huge admiration for pigeons and it breaks my heart when I see the way ignorant people treat them. These wonderful creatures have adapted to life in and around human habitation with a steely instinct for survival against the odds. When I witness people treating them with cruelty, chasing them, kicking them, screaming like fools when a pigeon flies by them, it makes my blood boil. In spite of the effort some councils invest in trying to eradicate them, pigeons continue to survive in our midst, against the odds. But in fact feral Pigeons are not all that common, there are only 100,000 breeding pairs in the UK compared to 4,000,000 pairs of blackbirds (source: pigeonrescue.co.uk).
The reason they live alongside mankind is primarily due to the waste that people leave for them to feed on. If not for the grubby individuals leaving litter on our streets then the pigeons would have no reason to be there. Half eaten pasties and discarded burger wrappers are the reason that pigeons proliferate in towns. Don't blame the pigeons, blame the low life humans that litter our streets. Indeed looking around the town centre in my neighbourhood, I can truthfully say that I would prefer the pigeons to some of the people....
I was hugely honoured recently when two pigeons decided to roost under the eaves just outside my office. I would see them return each night and settle down together, watching me through the window as I sat writing at my desk. Alas, they didn't stay long, moving on to pastures new. I miss them. Still now I look for them as the sun goes down in case they have returned but their little space under the eaves remains empty.
'the two of them hold tight, together,
huddled, still and watching me,
sheltered from the raging weather,
praying that I will let them be.'
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