Recently I have worked on quite a few seagull images. ‘The Seagulls’ is also the nickname of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club – and I am a Brighton girl.
Life According to Seagulls
What is a Seagull?
When I started to research seagulls for this blog, the first thing I found is that actually there is no such thing as a ‘seagull’. Seagull is a name that is commonly used to describe a gull which is a member of the Laridae family. There is no species of gull which is actually called a seagull. Even the use of ‘sea’ is slightly misleading, as several species actually breed and nest inland. There are many different types of gull as you can see from this North American website which lists 22 species. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) lists seven species of gull that can be found in the UK.
My blog focuses on images I have taken of gulls in the UK. And to keep things easy, and because we always use this word when we talk about them, I am going to refer to ‘seagull’ in this blog. The seagulls that appear most frequently in my images are Herring Gulls or Common Gulls.
Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club have the nickname ‘The Seagulls’. The club was founded as far back as 1901. They have legions of fans and now have their home stadium, the American Express Community Stadium in Falmer. Funnily enough Falmer Pond is where quite a few of my seagull images were taken. I posted some images of the football stadium to my online gallery recently.
Originally called ‘The Dolphins’, the football club name was changed to ‘The Seagulls’ after an exchange between fans at a pub (public house) in Brighton. Rival fans were shouting ‘Eagles, Eagles’ and the Brighton fans were shouting back ‘Seagulls, Seagulls’. The club has been known as The Seagulls ever since and in 1977 the club crest was changed to reflect the new name. You can read more about the history of the club here.
Seagulls Are Protected In The UK But Can Be A Nuisance
In the UK, as explained by the RSPB:
All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally or, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, recklessly injure or kill any gull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
This is hard for many people to understand as in many places seagulls are seen as pests, particularly the Herring Gull.
There are reports of seagulls attacking people (protecting their nests), tearing open rubbish bags and distributing the contents everywhere. Even stealing food from people’s plates at seaside restaurants – and their fingers whilst they are trying to eat!
According to the RSPB, the main reason for the problems is people feeding seagulls. This means they look for food and become confident and aggressive. Some local Councils are getting over this by fining people who feed seagulls. For example, in early May 2017 East Devon District Council introduced £80 on the spot fines for people caught feeding them – and other councils may follow suit. The people feeding the seagulls have a different perspective of course. It is a much bigger picture than this in reality, with the issue of land fill tips and the need to ensure streets are clean and rubbish removed being factors in seagull behaviour.
Seagulls are Intelligent Birds
You might be surprised to know that seagulls are highly intelligent. They learn, remember and even pass on what they have learnt to others. For example, stamping their feet to imitate rain and fool earthworms into coming to the surface. According to One Kind Planet, they are also attentive and caring parents, mating for life. They teach their young to drop shelled molluscs onto rocks to break the shell. They have highly developed, complex communication systems.
Surprised? They are much more than the noisy pests they are sometimes made out to be. And they make great art subjects.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!