It’s difficult to share this juvenile Herring gull’s enthusiasm for the large dead fish it had discovered on the embankment of the Ely River where it flows in to Cardiff Bay, but food is food and the bird’s scavenging was removing a potentially very smelly object from the foreshore. Well done, that gull!
Another day, another bird club trip, this time to Kenfig pool (where we had the Slavonian grebe and the Great white egret), to Porthcawl (first Cattle egrets of the year), and to Newton Point (first Purple sandpipers, but no Black redstart today). It was a cracking day’s birding but rather rainy much of the time so the camera didn’t come out often and my best shot of the day was of this juvenile (1st year) Herring gull who was pleading with us to share our sandwiches as we sat on the seawall at Porthcawl. It was out of luck!
Gordon is a bit of a character.
He taps on the floor-to-ceiling windows in my friend Jill’s bedroom some mornings, early, to check whether she might have any food for him.
Jill doesn’t actually feed him anything but, as a Herring gull, he’s a master scavenger and a skilled opportunist, so will pounce on anything tasty looking that she puts out for the smaller birds.
Gordon also vigorously defends Jill’s backyard from potential gull interlopers, mostly by screeching loudly from the roof when they come near.
Gordon may sound like a nuisance but he’s also a bit of a charmer.
I mean he is rather handsome, don’t you think?
I succumbed immediately to his charms so, when we bought ourselves fish and chips after a particularly long day out and about, I insisted we got a portion of chips for Gordon.
And, the next morning, when I put them out for him, Gordon was in seagull heaven. He wolfed those chips down like only a ravenous, greedy gull can.
I think Jill’s very glad I don’t visit too often as Gordon might easily come to expect such preferential treatment.
Herb: “Don’t look now but there’s a human over there with one of those black pointy thingies covering one eye, looking in our direction.”
Alby: “Do you think it’s going to hurt us, Herb? What should we do?”
Herb: “Those things don’t usually hurt. Maybe if we just keep perfectly still, it’ll go away.”
Alby: “I think it’s still there. Can you take a look, Herb?”
Herb: “Yep, still there. It’s making a clicking noise.”
Alby: “What should we do?”
Herb: “Let’s do something really weird. That might scare it off.”
Lunch! Yum! Still twitching and a bit of a slippery treat but this will certainly fill a gap.
Intruder alert! Someone’s noticed the tasty snack and tries to grab it.
Oh no! It’s too slippery to hold. Going … going …
This young Herring gull did well to catch itself such a substantial fish for its lunch but, unfortunately, couldn’t hold on when bullied by another gull. I’m fairly sure the fish fell on to the metal surface about 20 feet below and this youngster did fly down there to look but couldn’t find its fish and soon flew off to try again.
I apologise for the poor quality of these images. Sometimes I find my desire to show the story outweighs my desire to get perfect photos.
Wherever we went in Cornwall there were gulls: perching on rooftops, balancing on railings, sitting atop vans (especially seafood vans!), roosting on harbour walls, feigning nonchalance, affecting disinterest, calling the bluff of the unwary tourist. But we were wise.
With our first purchase of Cornish pasties we’d been warned: ‘The gulls here are vicious. One will distract you while the others swoop down from behind, so be careful where you sit and, whatever you do, don’t feed them!’ Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so we were smart. We found benches with our backs to building walls, where no artful marauders could surprise with their cunning manoeuvres, and so we weren’t bothered at all by the scavenging gulls … though I’m sure the scouts on the rooftops were watching our every mouthful!
When I went to stay with my friend Jill in East Sussex this week I didn’t expect to be woken early each morning by Herring gulls (scientific name Larus argentatus) screeching and squawking on hers and her neighbours’ rooftops as she lives several miles from the sea as the gull flies and nowhere near something that might attract them, like a rubbish tip. It seems the gulls have started moving inland in her area and she’s certainly noticed more of them about in the past year or so. According to the RSPB, Herring gull numbers have been declining in recent years so perhaps they are expanding their range in search of food.
I enjoyed hearing them as it made me feel like I was on holiday at the seaside, though they could be very cheeky. Although Jill doesn’t feed them, they do scavenge food put out for the smaller birds, and one rather insistent gull has taken to tapping at the French doors in her bedroom in the morning in the hope of getting some breakfast. And I took these photos of the same (or another, equally brazen bird) outside the back door, giving me a very imperious ‘feed me now’ look, then mewing like a young gull when the glare didn’t produce the desired results. I’m afraid it went away hungry.