• Hattie Easton

Having Seagulls as Neighbours

Living in Falmouth for the past two years has been amazing. From the quirky high-street to the independent restaurants and cafes, Falmouth is full of colour and life. The beaches are a ten-minute walk away,

connected to the south west coastal path.

There are only two negatives to living in Falmouth that I have come across: the hills and the seagulls. Wherever you walk there are hills to go up, and wherever you are there will always be a seagull nearby.

The word seagull is actually a generic term applied to all gulls that live by the coast, it isn’t actually one species of bird. The most common type of gull in Falmouth are Herring Gulls. These herring gulls can live up to thirty-two years in the wild and are classed as adults at around two years of age once all their grey feathers have matured in to white feathers.

As Falmouth is a coastal town there is an abundance of gulls who flock here to get an easy meal, to build nests and lay their eggs. These gulls can very quickly become a nuisance to those who live here due to the noise they create, the mess they make, and the damage they cause by nesting.

The biggest problem that I have experienced relating to herring gulls is when they rummage through bins looking for food, making a huge mess in the process. Herring gulls are known scavengers, who will eat literally anything, and who prefer to scavenge for it rather than to hunt for it. A rubbish bin is an easy target for hungry gulls, taking anything that we won’t eat and eating it themselves.

The best way to deal with this problem is to use seagull proof sacks to put your rubbish into. In Falmouth there are no wheelie bins due to the roads being too narrow to drive a truck down to collect the rubbish. Instead residents are required to store their general waste in whatever they have. Some use smaller black bins that have lids to prevent gulls from getting to the rubbish, others use seagull proof sacks. These sacks are available free of charge from the local council and are made of a material that cannot be penetrated by gull’s beaks. These sacks stop gulls getting to your rubbish, and therefore stop them making a mess.

Seagull proof sacks are not the only factors in place to make living with gulls easier. Statues of owls and other birds of prey can be used to prevent gulls from nesting near your property. This is because owls and birds of prey are herring gull’s natural predator. Seagull spikes can also be used on roofs of houses or on ledges to stop herring gulls from perching and nesting there.

Although there are methods and products out there designed to keep gulls at bay and to reduce the nuisance as much as possible, nothing will fully eradicate the herring gull, especially not from coastal towns. The best way to live with gulls is to acknowledge their presence, and to respect them. We need to accept that we now live alongside herring gulls, sharing the same habitat and the same coastline. Once you accept this and realise that they are just trying their best to survive, it is easier to live with them, rather than against them.

© 2019 Hattie Easton