Herring gulls make itWhitby's Serengeti
Since moving into the area a few years ago, and through the pages of this paper, there are two things which seem to get everyone's goat '“ Scarborough Borough Council and herring gulls.
The former is a lost cause, but herring gulls, well I’m a bit of a fan.
‘Mad woman!’ I hear you cry. It all started a few months ago. I’d seated myself opposite the Tourist Information Centre ( remember that building) and had just removed my lunch from my bag when silently, and in one adept swoop from behind, the sandwich was removed from my person and swallowed in one go.
The gull landed in front of me, his crop now a three cornered sandwich shape. I looked at him and he looked at me with that pale knowing eye and I was full of admiration. Not only are they smart opportunists, they can also count, he knew there was the other half of a sandwich in my bag.
I don’t know whether you’ve really looked at a herring gull, but they are truly beautiful. The sleek white and grey plumage, black tail with white spots and that eye, it bores into your soul.
The thing is, herring gulls are just like us, trying to get by, raise the kids and have a relatively easy life. I mean why build your home on some rocky windswept cliff, or go trailing out to sea foraging for food, when you can have it handed to you on a plastic tray. It makes sense to build your home next to a ready and available food source.
The roof tops are the cliffs, the streets and alleyways the concrete sea. They are scavengers busy clearing up, just like the vultures on the African savannah.
For some people, an encounter with a herring gull may be the only time they can get up close and personal to a large bird. Imagine our delight if a pride of lions came towards us along Baxtergate, or a herd of elephants on the pier, we would be in seventh heaven. Yes, they make a mess, but my goodness we are the messiest and most thoughtless animals on the planet. I once came across a dog poo tree. It seems to be a thriving species, hanging from its branches were black plastic parcels with a distinct odour.
I gazed at the tree thinking it was the latest installation for the Turner Prize, but discounted that idea as being too bizarre, or is it? If the proposed closure of public toilets goes ahead, heaven knows what we’ll be encountering in the darkest recesses of the area.
Culling seems to be the answer to everything we don’t like, but that never works.
Everyone knows it either disrupts the natural balance, or the species scatters and takes up residence somewhere else.
Mind you, Whitby’s gulls could end up on the roof of the council building in Scarborough, now there’s a thought.