Saturday, 23 June 2007

the seagulls of saltcoat

i was born and bred in africa, the southern tip, home of the zulu, the boer and the exported, or should that be imported english (suppose it depends which side of the equator one finds oneself).

we have seagulls in south africa, beautiful, big, white birds with cruel (aye, slightly poetic, but, correctly descriptive none the less) beaks. beaks obviously designed for spearing fish. south african seagulls tend to live by the sea and spend their days either bobbing on the waves or flying and diving in search of fish.

not so the seagulls of saltcoats... these are urbanized gulls, these street wise birds seem to prefer the suburbs. they float and swoop above the rows of terrace houses, they screech and scream, they argue incessantly ... with each other and any other living, moving being.( see links below for interesting info re the unfriendly habits of ayrshire seagulls) they adorn the rows of chimney pots, watching the world go by from these lofty perches.

come lunchtime and the local high school students make their way to the nearest chippy, indulging in snacks such as deep fried pizza and deep fried burger. perhaps i should mention the scottish desire and love for foods ....deep fried in batter. for instance a specialty treat is deep fried mars bar, what a wonderful world ... the interesting facts that one will never know, unless one actually resides in a country. i digress, we were discussing seagulls, not the quaint eating habits of the average greater scot!

well before the magic hour, the gulls start to congregate above their local chippy ...whooping and swooping. now, our average local student will seldom finish their meal and in their sullen teenage way, they find throwing their left overs in the bin, well ... bourgeois!unwanted chips, pizza crusts and uneaten bread rolls are tossed with careless abandon as they meander back to school. the seagulls swoop, professional scavengers, ready for lunch. grabbing, fighting, and protesting noisily. whatever happened to fishing for your lunch?

great numbers of these raucous seabirds fly inland, where they seek out farms where a tractor is ploughing or the good ayrshire grass is being harvested for the lean winter months. they settle across the fields like a living white throw, presumably feasting on tasty treats such as slugs and worms.i have even witnessed one of my local seagulls, killing and tearing apart a smaller bird. ah ... jonathan livingstone seagull, where is the air of mystery and romance which once surrounded have taken a huge dive in my bird popularity rating. you are now destined to live out my days right down there with the crow inveterate nest robber and baby bird eater.....

is there a question, and more important ... is there an answer.have seagulls resident near towns always lived this way. if they have ... why? is the big white bird lazy ...scavenging from the detritus of man an easy option or ...was it a matter of adapt or die, do our polluted oceans grow empty, overtaken with chemical effluent? have we so over fished the seas? have these magnificent white birds left the water and the joy of the graceful dive because of man? man and his technology, man and his pursuit, his desire, his worship for the god of profit....taking from the ocean , more than his share.

p.s. i am ashamed to find the thought of a seagull eating a baby bird, so much more offensive than the idea of a seagull eating a fish!

1 comment:

davnic said...

looked up this page cos'I was shaken to see a seagull snatch a young blackbird in croatia last week.