Pro-seagull campaign launched by art collective

Seagulls have been described by some opponents as 'flying rats'. Picture: AP

Seagulls have been described by some opponents as 'flying rats'. Picture: AP

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SCOTTISH seagulls are getting a positive public relations campaign waged on their behalf.

A group of poets, photographers and artists have teamed up in an effort to salvage the reputation of the brass necked birds.

Aberdeen FC have been plagued by seagull at Pittodrie. Picture: SNS

Aberdeen FC have been plagued by seagull at Pittodrie. Picture: SNS

They have created a booklet titled White Wings of Delight, which will raise money for RSPB Scotland when it goes on sale next month.

It features a collection of works with the running theme of “the grace of a delightful bird like a seagull” - an animal that has inspired countless artists and poets for generations.

The move by the creative network, based in and around Aberdeen, comes after a string of horror headlines featuring herring gulls.

Seagulls have been getting a bad rap in recent weeks due to a series of incidents, including a dog being pecked to death, a starling being swallowed whole, and Aberdeen Football Club being plagued by the nesting nuisances.

I’ve been feeding a seagull who comes to my window, who I have named Sinbad, for 15 years now and around the back window I have another one called Warren

Keith Murray

Aberdeen-based publisher Keith Murray helped develop the booklet, which was the brainchild of fellow poet Elizabeth Reinach.

Mr Murray said: “Elizabeth came up with the idea because we both love seagulls. Both of us have been told to ‘stop feeding the birds, they are flying rats etc’.

“But when you consider all the horrors that are happening in the world at the moment you have to wonder why people dislike gulls. There should be respect for all forms of life.

“So I gathered about 20 poems from different poets, all with a positive look at seagulls. Some of my poet friends were quite honest and said that they didn’t like seagulls but more replied with super poems.”

Mr Murray and Ms Reinach previously raised nearly £3,000 for a guide dog charity with a similar book.

The writers even enlisted the help of politician David Blunkett, who wrote a foreword for the collection entitled Guiding Lights, to help raise money for the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association.

They hope to have similar success with their seagull-orientated booklet.

Mr Murray added: “We want to raise money for the RSPB but also to bring attention to the fact that seagulls aren’t a creature to be hated.

“I’ve been feeding a seagull who comes to my window, who I have named Sinbad, for 15 years now and around the back window I have another one called Warren.

“I like to feed them at night, they come up to my window every morning at 1am like little white ghosts, and you can look into their eyes and see they’re truly beautiful, and there’s a character to each one of them.”

Granite City residents regularly complain about bold birds nicking food and dive-bombing built-up areas for scraps.

Two ‘Robops’ - robotic birds of prey - were unleashed further north in the fishing port of Fraserburgh in 2003 when the booming gull population caused a spate of problems.

But Aberdeenshire Council was forced to bin the project after seagulls got used to the flapping fibreglass falcons - and started sitting next to them.

The local authority has spent nearly £200,000 in the last five years trying to combat the pests.

Hawk patrols and nest removal work has cost the council a total of £197,979.70 since 2010.

White Wings of Delight is expected to be published around the middle of next month (AUG).

It will be available from Books and Beans cafe, the Maritime Museum and directly from Mr Murray by sending a cheque or postal order for £6 (or more) to Keith Murray Advertising, 46 Portal Crescent, Aberdeen, AB24 2SP.

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