Since I was a child I’ve always had a desire to live by the sea. The one thing I found most delightful was the sound of seagulls calling each other, and it’s the one sound I only have to hear for a second for all my fondest memories to just come flooding back. In the UK it’s quite a unique sound to the sea and coastal towns. Their calls carry on the breeze and you know you’ve arrived at the seaside when you hear them chatting away.
However, now I do live by the sea I’ve seen a different side to these creatures. Cafes and restaurants put up those ‘don’t feed the birds’ signs because if you do you could start a feeding frenzy and end up getting caught in the middle of it. These birds have no fear… they really will dive bomb you and anyone else around if you show so much as a suggestion that you might feed them. I’ve watched them gatecrash family picnics and barbecues, with devastating consequences to all but the seagulls and I’ve even had to chase them away from my daughters when they’ve threatened to pinch their ice creams. We can’t put bird food in the garden or the local bird population will find themselves being bullied by these thugs, as they make the garden their own and scare all the others off. On the few occasions I’ve tried to take my daughters to feed the ducks we’ve ended up feeding the seagull population as they’ve performed no end of impressive dives and swoops to pinch all the bread before the ducks have even had a chance to get a crumb. Eventually the ducks just waddle off to eat seaweed realising they don’t have a chance.
But whatever they do to show their nasty side, I can’t help feeling instantly enchanted when I hear their calls as those comforting memories of family holidays and breaks from the rat race come flooding back. So now I’m really undecided. Are these birds a magical part of life by the sea or are they simply bullying thugs? What do you think?