Seagulls may well be a feature of the seaside but when I moved to Grimsby I didn’t expect to get a pair nesting on my roof!
It started about two months ago when birds started to appear in the area and could be seen on chimney stacks along the road but I didn’t think a great deal about it. Then five or six weeks ago I came across a broken egg shell in the garden and using my book of common British Birds I was able to identify it as the egg of a Herring Gull and all of a sudden I began to understand why I had been sweeping up twigs and nest building material from all around the house over the last couple of weeks and it became obvious that a nesting pair had chosen my chimney as the perfect place to raise a family!
This still wasn’t too much of an inconvenience and I watched them daily until finally the eggs hatched and two chicks appeared – then the problems started.
Firstly the noise every morning at four o’clock as it got light and the parents took it in turns to go looking for food and announced their departure and arrival to and from the chimney pots with their familiar loud squawking calls which meant a succession of unexpected early wake ups.
Secondly the neighbours who kept knocking on the door and telling me I’d got house guests each one as though telling me something that I didn’t know already and then my roof suddenly became something like the Television programme ‘Springwatch’ and I was conscious that several pairs of binoculars were trained on the house which meant I had to be sure to put my trousers on before wandering around in the mornings!
Finally protective parenting has made my back garden a virtual no-go area. The birds have grown to quite a substantial size and there is no room in the nest for both chicks and the parents so one adult birds stays on permanent sentry duty on the roof of the house next door and anytime I go in the garden it starts to sound a repetitive clucking alarm call which seems to alert other seagulls nearby and within seconds there are half a dozen of them circling the garden and making an awful din. A couple of them are quite aggressive and will swoop down as though attacking and a few times I have been nervous enough to beat a hasty retreat back into the house.
Unfortunately I can expect them to be there for another couple of weeks or so because although they are quite large now and have an impressive wing span they seem to be showing no inclination to fly away so I have to continue to put up with the inconvenience. They are protected of course which means I can’t take action against them without being in breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Acts and the really bad news is that these things live for a very long time and may well come back again next year.
Daily they young birds get more adventurous and extend their wings and peer over the edge of the chimney, eventually the first one leaps and like a piece of falling masonry broken from the stack it falls gracelessly into the garden where it sits for a moment or two dealing with the surprise change of environment. After a while almost as though some primeval sense of danger inherent in its cunning brain urges it to move to a less vulnerable position and so it flapped its awkward wings and half flying, half jumping repositioned itself on the bonnet of my car where it stayed for an hour or so and obligingly let me take these photographs.
Other posts about birds: