Birds seem to keep cropping up recently around here. We currently have a flock of seagulls (or landgulls) wheeling and squawking around Bayshill, many with young. In the kitchen of Hanover House B&B (www.hanoverhouse.org) we often get amplified conversational squawks coming down the chimney flue to the AGA during breakfast, as they have decided recently to roost around the chimney pots. As I came back this morning from my latest session at the Cheltenham Ladies’ College gymnasium and swimming pool, I came down St George’s Road towards the house, a large, grey-plumaged seagull chick was strolling fearlessly (or more clearly in full ignorance of traffic) in the road with cars approaching. Its parent wheeled around it, anxiously chattering away trying to persuade its chick to get off the road, but to no avail. In desperation it then swooped down, and although the chick was as large as its parent, the latter grabbed hold of the youngster’s wing with its beak and actually bowled the youngster over onto its back right in front of me. Again, to no avail -the chick protested but scrambled to its feet and continued to wander into the track of the approaching cars, one of which had already had to take avoiding action. The parent then stood on the road facing the traffic as if it face it down or distract it so I quickly stepped in and ‘shooed’ the chick. Fortunately it seemed more afraid of me than cars or its parent and took off, landing in the carpark across the road, quickly joined by its now clearly relieved parent!
Later in the evening, I took Sophie for her walk along the Honeybourne line pedestrian and cycle path towards the railway station, where suddenly there was familiar squawking, this time accompanied by barking as Sophie rushed off down the cycle path being ‘buzzed’ by adult seagulls, which swooped down on to her continuously from the sky above, presumably because there were chicks close-by. On St George’s Road there is a house with a prominent model owl on its roof, and I’ve seen others around too, which presumably are designed to keep pigeons, and now seagulls off their roof tops. I’m not sure however whether seagulls fear owls, but I’ve never seen them co-habiting. Barrow council have published useful advice on control of seagull communities and background information on them and their breeding habits at http://www.barrowbc.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=323
In the news too has been the case of Rufus the American Harris Hawk, employed by the All England Tennis club at Wimbledon to keep pigeons away from the action, but stolen in his cage by thieves. A temporary replacement was quickly brought in, but Rufus has fortunately turned up, recovered still in his cage on Wimbledon Common and handed in to the RSPCA hospital at Putney.