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The trouble with Seagulls… : DIVERSIFLY BLOG #11

Photo by Caroline Gill

The BBC in May 2017 reported that  “People caught feeding seagulls on beaches in Devon face £80 fines from Monday.”

The Economist, in February 2017, reported on the financial implications of lifting the protection of all gulls and attempting to cull them

And also points out – what is always the case with rats, pigeons, whatever we love to hate: they are just behaving normally – and it’s OUR behaviour that requires looking at, discussing, and changing very often 🙂

I had a seagull dive bomb my icecream at the seaside a few years ago – it skidded into the gorgeous swirl of creamy yumminess and pushed it off into the sand. It flew away. We were both losers that time. And I too old to throw a tantrum , and no kindly Aunt/ Grandma/ Dad near to rush and buy me a new one…

This Blog is part of the DIVERSIFLY project: For more details on the project go here

Seagulls of course – no longer stay at the seaside. More and more can be seen following a ploughing tractor in the countryside and our towns and cities are filled with them.

My mother lived in Cheltenham. There were spikes on her window ledges, placed there by the resident’s committee before she moved in, and the Council sprayed the gull’s eggs with oil – making the shells impermeable and the embryos/chicks left suffocating then dying.

Recently I was in the centre of Birmingham. There was a seagull sitting on the head of one of the statues in Centenary Square – the sound it made was so akin to laughter, it surprised me. Not far away Jeremy Corbyn was being welcomed at one of his last minute rallys before the General Election. I wonder if that gull is laughing now?

By Matt Timbers

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is an extraordinary book isn’t it?

I haven’t read it for decades but I just remembered it as I was sitting here thinking about how much I love watching a seagull in its element – its huge wingspan, its majestic aerial movements…

The seagull we mostly see inland is the Herring Gull. Bill Bailey, in his Remarkable Guide to British Birds describes them as: Dagger-beaked dive-bombers. And – Gimlet-eyed snaffler of a million battered sausages. He attempts to champion them – saying they are extremely intelligent and can be seen picking up shellfish and dropping them on to rocks to crack them open. Like Bill Bailey I find them a handsome bird.


By Matt Timbers

Their ability to eat almost anything, from fish offal to the young of its own kind, has made it one of the most successful species in Britain. One of the breeding pair has to stand guard over its chicks against the depredations of neighbouring gulls. A chick takes four years to reach maturity.

A landfill refuse tip would look odd without its seagulls.

Has anyone written a poem about the raucous, dive-bombing seagull?

I looked on Poetry Soup website for famous Herring Gulls poems – and got this answer:

Sorry, no poems have been posted for this category.

Here is a link to a sweet poem about a gull the artist, Carrie Sanderson had just drawn, and here is a link to a UK based poet, Carol Coiffait, on an american website. But there aren’t many out there, it seems? Have you had an everyday encounter with a seagull in one of Britain’s towns or cities – have you written a poem or made some art or craft about it. Want it in a book? Please do send via the submittable form on the project page (link at top and bottom of this page) Nadia x

Here are some images I have found online:


And here are a few links with some more information :

The Telegraph: Seagulls may be annoying but…

RSPB on Herring Gulls

All About Birds on Herring Gull life history


   This Blog is part of a series of Blogs that are part of the Fair Acre Press project –  DIVERSIFLY: everyday encounters with the birds of Britain’s towns and cities. For more details on the project go here

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6 Responses to The trouble with Seagulls… : DIVERSIFLY BLOG #11

  1. Beverley July 14, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    Hi Nadia
    I’ve written a poem about seagulls that I sent up to the project a few weeks ago…..just checking you rec’d it ok? Just in case you didn’t, here it is:
    Seagulls dance

    Seagulls dance
    on air
    Spread their wings
    a turn
    Such flair
    for skimming currents

    Swoop and dive

    Then come together
    silver feathers touching
    briefly ruffled
    Yet just as quick

    A shallow cry
    and then away
    But did he take
    her heart?

    Thanks, Beverley Cherry.

    • Nadia July 15, 2017 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Beverley!
      LOVELY poem!
      If you got a rather boring automatic email from “me” saying thank you for your submission then its safely in the system. I havent actually had a minute to look in submittable.. in the next couple of weeks I will as I am really keen to see how many poems and artwork have been sent in – though I will wait till September before I look at any of them – it will be better for the book that way.
      I get Matthew Oates’ book off finally to the printers this week which will be wonderful.
      We have been travelling the countryside – seeing David Morley, Alison Brackenbury and Katrina Porteous and recording them for podcasts we will release in January which has been the most wonderful experience – but a lot of motorway miles!!
      Nadia x

      • Beverley Cherry July 15, 2017 at 10:37 am #

        Wow you’ve been busy! Glad you liked it yes I have just checked and yes I did get the automated reply, so all good thank you All the best with the project, BC.

        • Nadia July 15, 2017 at 11:37 am #

          Oh good – I’m glad the “system” is working!
          That was kind of you to check
          Yes it has been busy but all such fun!
          Nadia x

  2. Anne Harding July 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    Hello Nadia,
    I have a love-hate relationship with Herring Gulls. They are such good parents but the young are terribly lazy and would rather wait for their parents to feed them for the four years than find it themselves. I wrote a poem about a mother Herring Gull trying to teach her offspring how to feed itself. It was so funny watching her lead her fledglings down the beach to show them how to look for worms under rocks. If you would like me to send it to you please let me know where to send it?
    Anne Harding

    • Nadia August 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Hi Anne!

      I think a lot of people will agree with you on the subject of Herring Gulls wont they? It is their sheer numbers that is the problem isnt it!!

      Nadia x

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