This is not an assault on bird kind, I am in fact an amateur birder who marvels at most of these fine feathered critters. There is one particular bird-type, though, that do not attract my affection. The generic and dreaded seagull.
I know gull is an umbrella term that encompasses many different species, and seagull is not one particular bird at all. But the birds that I’m referring to are herring gulls, or Larus argentatus. And I am not alone in my hatred.
According to a survey of 1,200 Brits, 95% responded that they ‘detest’ seagulls, giving them the crown as the most despised bird species (closely followed by the unwitting pigeon).
Food thieving fiends
The crowning glory which has fuelled my hatred for these insolent sky dwellers occurred not in the UK where I have experienced them most, but in San Francisco, the City by the Bay. Being the typical tourist strolling along Pier 39, I decided to tantalise my tastebuds with the height of American cuisine, a ‘corn dog’.
No sooner had I handed over a fistful of $1 bills, when a particularly bold gull claimed my precious ‘dog’ and practically took my arm off in the process. Unforgivable. There’s nothing worse than having food unfairly taken from your possession (there are many worse things, but at that time, nothing worse).
I know for a fact that I am not the only victim of this most heinous fowl play (sorry, I had to). I have watched numerous people being terrorised by the kamikaze-esque demons of the sky; chips, ice cream, snacks-a-plenty have all been guzzled by gulls in front of me. Nobody is safe.
Litter spreading heathens
All seaside (or relatively coastal) towns suffer this annoyance, but I have never experienced it on the scale of the city where I studied, Cardiff. Ok we lived in an area densely populated by students, and yes that did mean there was an unacceptable amount of rubbish on the streets, but boy did the gulls make a mess of it.
Bags shredded, mess spread. The morning after the night bins are put out for collection, it is like walking through a post-apocalyptic world. Regardless of what is in the bin bag, the gulls do not give a toss, they will spread it across the street. I know they are just looking for something to eat, but at least eat tidily.
This one needs little explanation or description. Gluttonous gulls leave their mark, and being large birds, this mark is substantial. The shit of a well fed seagull is not too dissimilar to a knocked over litre of white paint. On your car, on your roof, on your head. It is unpleasant and unavoidable.
My love affair with passerines and raptors is strong and continual, on the other hand, I never hanker for the web-footed wankers named seagulls. Nature (as is life itself) is astounding in a myriad of manners, in my opinion seagulls do not make it into this esteemed grouping.