www.thisbrighton.co.uk Brighton: illustrated  

Wildlife: The Urban Gull - food supply

Gotta Read It...

The Great Storm of 1987 full story...

Doing the Undercliff Walk full story...

Take Three Piers full story...

An abc of Web Design go there...

The Digital Canvas go there...

The Writing is on the Wall full story...

What's in a Name full story...

Food Supply is the Key to Control

Herring gull
Herring gull
"fishing" for worms

The herring gull is a scavenger, and a very successful one. It seems to have been the change in management practices at landfill sites which resulted in a massive increase in food supply, leading to an explosion in population, and an 'overspill' of gulls into roof top colonies in our towns and cities. Once there, and with the growth of the throw away consumer culture, the herring gull has found another food source in our rubbish bags, that is, long before our waste comes anywhere near a landfill site! The transition from dustbin to the ubiquitous and even iniquitious black bin bag has been a disaster. Ripping open plastic bin bags has become second nature to the herring gulls of the city. A history of poor industrial relations in the city's waste collection service, which has often seen bags of rubbish left on the streets for days, confusion, or plain irresponsible behaviour by some residents who leave their rubbish bags out on the wrong day for collection, likewise restaurants and cafes who do not securely bin their food waste: - all these things has turned the bag of rubbish into a staple source of food for herring gulls.

However, herring gulls do have a broader diet than food thrown away by humans. The gulls scavenge for insects and worms in parks and open spaces. It's quite common to see a herring gull, either alone or one in a small group, marking time on the grass (see photo at top of page), then moving on a little and doing it again. This way it either flushes our insects and larvae in the grass, or brings worms to the surface which it then grabs.

Another source of food is shell fish. For example, at Blackrock you will see gulls gathering on the beach as the tide goes out and reveals the musssel beds on the shore. Gulls will rip a mussel free from the bed, fly about 40 feet or so into the air and drop the mussel on the shingle to break open its shell. This can take several goes before the gull is successful. What is also impressive is that the gull doesn't lose sight of its mussel as it drops on the shingle beach. (Beach grows also use this method for breaking open mussels.)

A Man Feeds Herring Gulls on Brighton Pier
Young Gull grabs for a Piece of Bread
 

<previous page next page>

 

Laganfauld About Us | Acknowledgements | Contact Us | My Back Pages | ©2006 Laganfauld