Please do not blame the birds

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REGARDING the letter from Jem Breeds, June 20.

Gulls do not fish.

The much-misunderstood herring gull is a coastal bird and not a sea bird that spends most of its life out of sight of land.

These coastal birds can range far inland in fields, up river estuaries and over any water.

They are just as happy following the plough, to pick up worms and grubs, as they are a fishing boat.

Sadly the commercial fishing trawlers have become fewer over the last 30 years and the vital food supply has dwindled so much the gulls have had to look elsewhere.

Gulls are by nature opportunist scavengers; they are intelligent birds and have a great ability to adapt to change.

The birds have not only lost their preferred food source but also suitable nesting places on the cliffs so have moved into towns where both are easily provided.

Rooftops make ideal nesting places and vantage points to spot where there maybe sources of food, which we humans leave in the form of litter in the streets or at picnic sites or in our gardens.

They are ‘eagle-eyed’ birds; as soon as one spots a meal others will swoop to take advantage of the easy pickings, and who can blame them for taking such opportunities.

You can get really close to this handsome bird. I for one enjoy watching their antics, have you ever seen a gull pounding the ground with its large webfeet, in a field or on a lawn, to attract worms to the surface.

Although there may seem to be too many gulls in the towns they have declined by 50 per cent since 1970.

The nuisance gull problems are best tackled by reducing the availability of food on streets and at landfill sites; methods include preventing street littering, and making public waste bins, domestic and business waste containers, and collection arrangements ‘gull proof’.

Those best placed to do this include landfill companies, and local authorities, but the behaviour of private individuals is also important in our ‘throw-away’ society. Do not blame the birds!

JANE STEVENS

Granville Road