While staying in Lyme Regis recently we had a couple of seagull incidents. You would have thought that as we live by the sea and in a place which has a large population of gulls we’d be used to it. We know how they can come into conflict with people – especially people who are careless with leaving so-called ‘fast food’ leftovers lying about. All along the seafront in Lyme were notices about not feeding seagulls – it’s definitely not good for their health, they become aggressive, and it encourages them to steal from people eating outside.
There are many different types of seagull – the most common that we see are:
- herring gulls
- lesser and greater black-backed gulls
- black-headed gulls
- common gulls
I’m not sure which of the seagulls were the ones we saw but they were big, noisy and quite aggressive. I wonder if people who live far from the sea and haven’t come across them have a romantic notion about them, floating and wheeling in the sky, calling in their evocative way, travelling far and wide in search of food. Certainly arriving at the seaside and seeing them circling, hearing their cries is all part of being on holiday.
We were in Lyme Regis and on our first day decided to have a celebratory lunch. There’s a very nice café/restaurant opposite the sea, with an awning outside and we plonked ourselves down and scanned the interesting menu. I was just pondering over fish pie or crab sandwiches when there was a kerfuffle at a nearby table as a seagull swooped down and stole something from someone’s plate.
We asked the owner if we should move inside but he told us that four people sitting round a table were safe as they created a huddle and there was no way for seagulls to get to the table and the food.
I decided on the crab sandwiches, someone else had soup, someone had the fish pie and the other of us had pasta. The meals arrived and they were wonderful, my sandwich bursting with crab and a nice salad beside. Eating, enjoying a glass of wine, chatting about the week to come, a marvellous view… perfect!
Suddenly from nowhere, between our elbows a seagull landed in the soup, snatched a chunk of bread and flew off. We sat for a moment, soup spattered, staring stupidly at the debris. Waiters arrived with cloths and we gulped down the rest of our food and left. We were pretty miffed as we know what pests these birds are and manage to avoid them back home along our own seafront.
A day or so later, breaking off from our writing we wandered into town, visited the wonderful secondhand bookshop (of course) had some lunch (inside) and strolled back along the promenade to return to our little cottage which happened to be a coastguard cottage. We debated about ice-cream, but unusually I didn’t fancy one – there was none which appealed, but a friend bought a black cherry cornet. We sauntered along speaking of this and that, when suddenly my friend’s arm flew up in the air there was a beating of wings and she was left holding the stump of her ice-cream cone, with no ice-cream… I confess we shouted a few naughty words as we kicked out at the mob of birds now attacking the gull who had the ice-cream.
I guess the only appropriate musical accompaniment is from a flock of seagulls… A Flock of Sseagulls:
Here’s a link to something about other coastguard cottages: