Thursday, 29 November 2012

Silent Spring? Nah.


I have just looked out of the window to see all the re-ctcling that I spent ages grading and sorting this morning, thrown into the back of an ordinary crusher lorry. I may not bother to separate out the rubbish any more.

Other news:

The monkeys on the rock island of Gibraltar have been getting a bit too pushy with tourists, and may be sent back to North Africa where their great great great great (etc.) grandparents came from. They could undergo training for their new life at a safari park before they are given one-way tickets, though.

Of course, it is the tourists fault, as they ignore the local law about not feeding the critters, and then wonder why they get bitten when they don't give away all their sandwiches, rather than just the crusts.

Down in Cornwall last summer, I was amazed and appalled to see people feeding fish and chips to huge Herring and Black Backed Gulls, despite numerous posters telling them not to. This produces horrendous problems  - not only for the locals, but also for the more sensible tourists who just want to eat their sandwiches in peace whilst watching the tide going in and out.

I actually had to fight off one particularly aggressive gull who tried to convince me that my sandwich was bought for him, and I actually had to make physical contact with it more than once as it tried to snatch it out of my hand. A child would not have stood a chance. Ironically, the coastal gull population is in steep decline - maybe because they have all moved into towns.

Up until a few years ago, we had a pet Black Back gull here at our compact but adorable city apartment, and I used to hand feed it every day. At the time, it was the Alpha Male of the locality, and was easily recognised because of a ring on it's foot, as well as it's confident attitude. It used to bring it's wife along with him sometimes, and we referred to them as 'Mr and Mrs Gully'.

Gulls will pair for life, and in ideal conditions, life can mean up to 40 years. In city centres, life often means about 25 years, so husband and wife get to know each other very well.

Somehow, Mr Gully eventually managed to remove his distinctive ring, but we recognised him anyway. One day, he failed to turn up, meaning that he had somehow been killed, and - at the time - they were poisoning a lot of rats in town, and leaving their bodies around to be eaten by gulls. A friend of mine watched a poisoned rat being swallowed whole by a gull, and for all I know, it could have been Mr Gully.

Mrs Gully came back every day thereafter, until she was beaten away by the much larger Herring Gulls which had been evicted from their traditional home at the other end of town by demolition and re-development.

When she left, we stopped giving the birds any food at all, and life has been much quieter in the spring, now that the scraps are not being fought over by the nesting wildlife.

I hate throwing food away, being brought up to abhor waste, but the natural balance of things is almost restored in our little backyard, were it not for all the kebab-joint's customers who do not abhor waste and chuck their rubbish around on the streets at night as litter for the dawn gulls which arrive before the street-sweepers.

Now, all that nutritious stuff is chucked into the back of a crusher lorry and buried so deep that it will never be dug up by the gulls. Bring back the Red Kites.

10 comments:

  1. One of the great disadvantages of town life is seeing gulls distributing trash everywhere. I suppose it's the only thing one can say in favour of Wheelie-Bins.

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    1. There's a good picture somewhere of a huge fox with it's head in a wheelie bin.

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  2. Years ago now, my husband and two boys were on the beach in Rhode Island when we were attacked by gulls wanting our sandwiches. They were very menacing -- conjured up thoughts of Hitchcock's 'The Birds', as well as Tom Lehrer's thoughtful song, 'Poisoning Pigeons in the Park'!

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  3. 'Do not feed the pigeons
    On your head be it'

    London Bridge station, I think.

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    1. Nelson has never fed them, but look at him.

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  4. the gulls can be quite aggressive here Tom and we are about eighty miles inland. What always amazes me is that there can be absolutely no gulls anywhere, the farmer ploughs one furrow in a field and by the time he turns at the end there will be a hundred gulls looking for grubs and worms.

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    1. When they're not following the plough, they are in Bath eating kebabs.

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  5. I have no interesting stories about gulls ........... all that I can add is that, as soon a I start digging in the garden, a little robin appears in a milli second !!!!

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    1. Aren't you glad that robins are not the same size as gulls?

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