The independent London newspaper

Why don’t squawking, screaming gulls go back to sea?

30 July, 2020

Illustration by John Sadler

• I AM wondering if a local ornithologist can explain why the area where I live – an area roughly bordered by Hadley Street, Prince of Wales Road, Healey Street, and Castle Road – has lately become a gathering area for a large group of gulls.

We’ve had the odd gaggle in the past among the rooftops, shrieking at each other, but for just a few minutes before they move on to grace another neighbourhood with their raucous partying.

But for the last week or more quite a large band (20 plus) of gulls have been ever present, night and day, in the immediate vicinity.

I think they are Common Gulls but it’s hard to tell as they rarely land and are largely viewed from below and many may be juveniles (they certainly behave like unruly teenagers).

From below they seem uniformly white and the few viewed otherwise seem to have pale grey tops to their wings and backs and the wing tips do not seem to be appreciably darker.

But why have they adopted this area, why are they here all the time, and why do they never shut up? They are squawking, screaming, giggling and laughing even in the dead of night, forever wheeling around in the sky, rarely settling on roofs.

I cannot hear myself think. They have had a distinct impact on the former rather glorious lockdown song performances of the local smaller bird population.

Who can blame them for hiding away given the gulls’ reputation for cannibalism? Can we hope that they will eventually go away? What are they doing here anyway – what’s wrong with the seaside in summer?



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