We can learn a lot from the seag­ulls

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Weeds Shame -

With ref­er­ence to your ar­ti­cle ‘Res­i­dents in a bit of a flap over gull in­va­sion’ (KE, Au­gust 7), whilst un­der­stand­ing that they can some­times be noisy and ir­ri­tat­ing I do find them an in­tel­li­gent and ut­terly amaz­ing bird with a com­plex so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion within their com­mu­nity.

The RSPB say that they are com­ing in­land be­cause of prob­lems with their tra­di­tional ma­rine food sup­ply which makes ma­rine con­ser­va­tion ar­eas a good idea if it can en­cour­age them back to sea but I tend to feel that these en­dan­gered gulls are here to stay.

I worked once for a univer­sity lec­turer who had pub­lished pa­pers on the dam­age done by anti foul­ing paint (the paint used to cover the hulls of boats to stop them get­ting en­crusted with bar­na­cles) on the ma­rine food sup­ply chain and in par­tic­u­lar caus­ing de­for­mity in whelks. Not sur­pris­ing there­fore that her­ring gulls have been dis­rupted by ma­rine pol­lu­tion.

Eat­ing scraps of white bread that we would not give to dogs is hardly a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive and I do treat ours to sar­dines, mak­ing a tin last two days.

We have ded­i­cated her­ring gulls now named Ken and Sweet. They come for a feed with the rest of the gar­den birds at 8am or ear­lier and then dis­ap­pear (where they go to is a mys­tery) but they re­turn with a de­lib­er­ate plonk on the con­ser­va­tory roof at 5pm for the evening feed.

They are ev­i­dently high in the peck­ing order as they keep all other gulls away from the gar­den and none are al­lowed to the land with­out their per­mis­sion.

They also keep spar­row hawks away and set up an alarm cry if one is in the area gath­er­ing forces to fly in a cir­cle to pro­tect the other gar­den birds.

I have also seen a heron es­corted out of the area with two her­ring gulls on its tail.

Once her­ring gulls get to know hu­mans they will greet them with a bow touch­ing their feet with their beak.

There is no doubt that they are watch­ing us and adding a new mean­ing to the term bird watch­ing.

Their eye con­tact is in­tense and there is a soul of sen­si­tiv­ity be­hind those eyes and like peo­ple groups, they de­velop and be­have ac­cord­ing to their cir­cum­stances badly or well.

We need to study and un­der­stand them more (if only they could speak!) and act to give them the best pos­si­ble life. Wendy Ne­vard, St Ni­cholas Road, Lit­tle­stone, New Rom­ney

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