Nature Notes: It’s all so quiet... sssh, sssh!
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Have you noticed how eerily quiet it's been recently? No, I'm not talking about the effects of the lockdown we have all endured these past couple of months; I'm talking about the gulls.
Now, I don't know if it's the same all across the Bay, but here in Preston, it seems most of the Herring Gulls haven't paired up and had young.
The roof on the flats at the end of my road are usually thronged with mottled chicks scrambling across the roof tiles and their anxious, diligent parents raising merry hell at the sight of any potential threat, real or imaginary.
However, this year, only a couple of pairs have chicks and the streets fanning out and up the hill from Oldway are strangely quiet.
I'm sure a lot of Torbay householders are fairly relieved at this lull in proceedings, for the Herring Gull is a divisive bird.
Just like Marmite, you either love 'em or loathe 'em!
I have to admit being in the 'love' camp, and one of the earliest British ornithologists, Colonel George Montagu - who lived just down the coast in Kingsbridge - also appeared to be something of a fan, writing this charming and accurate observation in 1802; 'It is amusing to observe its method of catching worms, by a perpetual trampling on the same spot, turning about in all directions, and eagerly examining for those that rose out of the ground, which were instantly seized, and the same work renewed.
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'Similar means are frequently used by fisherman to procure worms for bait.
'Thus, where man is directed by reason to procure the object of his search, this bird as successfully obtains it by instinct.'
Clips of this funny behaviour now regularly appear on TV shows and on YouTube.
As with most things, problem Gulls usually trace back to thoughtless humans, either illicitly feeding them or dumping rubbish.
With careful consideration there is a way for us all to live peacefully together.
I for one, couldn't imagine the Bay without the instantly recognisable, iconic sound of the British seaside.