Herring Gulls are delivering a message to us about looking after the planet and our local environment. (They also delivered a message to me a few years ago when I went for a couple of days to the island of Rum, or Rhum whichever you prefer, and left my car standing directly under a street lamp at Mallaig!)
Lyn, it sounds quite Hitchcockian. I used to spend my summers by the sea near to a port and I remember the herring gulls as handsome, noisy chancers. I don't remember being scared of them.
My theory is that in the fifties and sixties there were no fast food restaurants. People ate breakfast, lunch and dinner (or in my case, breakfast, dinner and tea) at home. It was considered to be very bad manners to wander about in the street eating anything other than maybe a boiled sweet. I remember getting detention at scondary school for being caught serruptitiously munching a bag of crisps on the bus home (one of the teachers lived in the same village and reported me, the b*****d).
Also, there just wasn't spare food to throw around (literally) so people rarely fed the birds and the birds didn't expect to be fed. Nowadays everybody eats all day long and throws waste food wherever the fancy takes them. Birds are quick learners and the gulls have learned not to bother waiting for scraps to be thrown to them but to go in and grab what they want.
We only have ourselves to blame.
pansyface - we had exactly this conversation at work the other day. You've just said everything I said. I hadn't thought about the three meals a day though, but you're absolutely right about that - and it's humans who cause the problems most of the time.
I think you must be right Pansyface. If you look at the incidences of ADHD and multiple nervous and depression and anxiety conditions these days which are becoming more prevalent, sadly at young ages - I'm sure it's a combination of manufactured produce. We have no idea what is in the air, in our food, in our water, in our medications, cleaning materials, industry. Chemicals and additives gone mad and the conditions and time/evidence-based trials etc on so many things in our environment have been produced and 'in the system' with not enough long-term study of long-term results and consequences. General day to day activities, especially for youngsters, are so pressurised these days as well. Everything is a rush for , often superficial, perfection, instant fix, products which produce instant results....I need to stop before the entire rant takes hold!
If you take notice of which species of gull you see following ships, especially fishing vessels, you will see that they are always Herring Gulls - they are by nature opportunist feeders; same thing at coastal colonies - they are the ones that steal other birds' food and eat other birds. Therefore you can't expect them to change their habits to suit us. We are at the moment taking away some of their food sources, by different fishing methods, improved practices at refuse tips, coastal degradation, etc. So they will look elsewhere to scavenge and, as Pansyface says, where better than towns and cities where food is plentiful through people providing a 24/7 buffet?
We are in the middle of a very noticeable process of change with Herring Gulls and our reaction is to blame the birds, which are only doing their best to survive. The only advice you can give to people is not to make themselves a target, i.e. don't sit on the sea-front at Looe with a tray of fish and chips next to a sign that says 'Don't feed the gulls'.