WORDS & PICS: ARNIE MONTEITH
OU COULD HAVE your headphones in, there may be a police siren in the distance, cars lining the streets at rush hour, with the sounds of roaring engines surrounding you, but there’s no way you would miss the sharp call of a Blackheaded Gull in the city. They’re one of our most charismatic gull species; an extremely sociable bird which, despite their size, call louder and are more quarrelsome than any other gull found in Britain. They’re a bird that divides opinion – people seem to either love them or hate them.
Although their name may suggest so, these gulls have white heads for much of the year – developing the full black head only in summer months. For the most part of the year, they are left only with a small black patch behind the eye. The actual feature of the bird which can be used to distinguish them from other gulls is the white leading line along their wings. Gulls in general, or ‘sea gulls’ as they’re more commonly referred to as, have received a lot of bad press recently. Over the past summer, scare stories about gulls on the attack have been reaching news headlines. Stories of gulls killing dogs or breaking into homes have been making the front pages. Stories which are ridiculously exaggerated but seemed to strike fear into the public; even to the
extent that our Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that “serious conversations” were needed to combat the “gull problem”. I realise I may be in the lesser populated category when I say that I like gulls, but there is definitely a misconception surrounding their behaviour throughout the public. The true nature of gull behaviour is that our own behaviour is largely responsible for that of British gulls, whether this be through our inability to properly dispose of our waste, our poor attitude to littering or the extent at which we have depleted our seas of fish stocks in recent years. As a photographer and naturalist I have always been interested in the common, and often neglected, species close to home. I like to find out more about the animals I see on a daily basis, to