Gull crazy

An Aberdeen-based arts collective has published a booklet of poems celebrating “a delightful bird like a seagull”. Perhaps they should instead have left the final literary word on the subject of gulls to Scotland’s first national poet Edwin Morgan.

He wrote of the “cold inspection” a gull landing on his windowsill gave of his room with “a calculation” in its eyes which was “quick” in looking for whatever food it contained.

Since there was none Morgan questioned if it was his own flesh that was the attraction.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Members of the collective take a pride in feeding the gulls that visit them each year and even give them pet names. They may even believe this contributes to their survival. After all, the number of gulls breeding on the coast is in decline.

However, ecologists estimate there is only a three per cent chance of a gull born and bred in a town migrating to the coast. They reckon, as their number increases year on year, there will be a million gulls in the UK by the year 2040.

When people care for pets they do not normally do so under conditions of uncontrolled breeding.

Each breeding pair of gulls gives birth annually to three chicks which will in the next few years return to the same breeding site to rear their young.

It is part of their nature and ability to fly up to 15,000 kilometres in 100 days in search of food. But they are intelligent opportunists.

They will not by-pass edible hand-outs nor food discarded in streets, both of which entice them back into the towns.

The booklet is intended to raise funds for the RSPB.

Those who have a mind to support this charity should do so directly and not through this misguided publication.

Kay Smith

Bryson Road

Edinburgh