It’s A Bird’s Life

Ilustration of seagulls by Rex/Shutterstock


Here’s one seagull with somewhat international tastes

The problem is, we seagulls get a bad press.

I mean, picture a seaside, with your beach and your deckchairs, kiddies splashing in the shallows, maybe a few gulls out at sea, and it’s all very nice.

Then imagine unwrapping your Cornish pasties and sandwiches, and suddenly your gull seems like some sort of predator.

You like us as background, but you don’t like us up close, do you?

Thing is, we’re just trying to get by, ducking and diving, and after all, what’s a dropped chip to you? If anything, we’re doing you a favour, clearing up after you and keeping the streets tidy.

Imagine the esplanades and piers without us; they’d be ankle-deep in crusts, squashed chips and pastry flakes!

You can probably tell from my accent, I’m from the city originally, outskirts of London. Not a bad area, but the youngsters I grew up with were happy scavenging on the local dump.

“C’mon, Darren,” they’d cry, “Rich pickin’ today!”

My problem is, I had a developed palate even when I was a nipper.

“Fussy eater,” my mum said, when I first refused her regurgitations.

One day, I got hold of some fresh fish and it just blew my mind, so I left my hometown and headed to the coast.

It’s always tough when you move to a new area, and it took a while to settle in and find my patch, but they weren’t a bad bunch. You might know it – Plymouth? Yeah, lovely place. I’d hang out near Plymouth Hoe mostly, get a better class of scraps there.

Following those fishing boats, though, you need a tough skin for that game, it’s vicious.

The fishermen are OK but the other birds – wow! I tried tagging along and this one gull, Vince, he dive-bombed me clear out of it, sent me spiralling.

“Hey, mate! Didn’t you see me?”

“I see you, city-boy,” he snaps back, “What’s more, I don’t want to see you again – savvy?”

Thinks he’s Jack Sparrow or something, from that pirates film. Personally, I always preferred action films, especially with Steven Seagal – great name.

It’s birds like Vince that are the trouble – him and Benny, who deliberately poop on day-trippers. That’s just mean! The actions of a few individuals give us all a bad name.

Seagulls are just after a bite to eat, we’re friendly, we’d make great pets.

Besides, we’re smart, too. Ever seen us stamping our feet on the grass? You think that’s us dancing? No way! We’re imitating rainfall to bring earthworms to the surface. Don’t believe me? Seriously, look it up!

Where was I? Yeah, so in the end, I realised that my selective palate needed new horizons. Back in March, I boarded a cross-Channel ferry – talk about heaven!

Now I’m living in the cobbled streets of Roscoff, feasting on pains-au-chocolat.

Admittedly, the French tend not to eat in the street, but there are plenty of tourists here so it’s rich pickings and there’s fresh bread every day.

I even have a gull-girl. We don’t talk much but then we don’t need to, do we?

Best of all, any time I get homesick for a chunky chip or a crust of Cornish pasty, I just hop on the ferry and hitch a free crossing. Quite the seasoned traveller I am now.

So, if you’re over this way, look out for me in Roscoff. I like to perch on top of a hotel called Le Brittany, very classy, with a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Shout up and I’ll pose for you; bring a pain-au-chocolat and I might even fly down for it!

Look out for more animal fiction stories every Monday and Thursday throughout June, and here’s another to enjoy now…

Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!