“They’re just giant f***ing flying rats!” my Uncle exclaimed… “bleedin’ things.” I suppose it’s true in a way, they are scavengers. I’m talking of seagulls of course, I’m sure you knew that though, from the title. Having been brought up by the sea, seagulls have always been a part of my life.
Even though I lived, for the most part of my childhood, a few miles from the sea itself, the seagulls were of course regular visitors to our garden. My dad was, and still is a keen twitcher, and always put food out for the birds which the seagulls would promptly steal – rather like the magpies and pigeons do where he lives now. They scare away the ‘real birds’ and their list of annoying habits does not end there.
It is very common to see day trippers sat on Cleethorpes promenade eating their packed lunch. Of course these innocent visitors are the perfect target for these cunning birds who can swoop from rather a great height with incredible accuracy if there is a chance of stealing a sandwich. I have seen a crying child stood with empty cone in hand, ice-cream on the floor, on more than one occasion having being ‘bombed’ by a villainous gull.
Their confidence and pushiness is relentless. Of course when you try to approach one to take a picture for your blog – as I did this morning – they are coy as you like, oh so demure and humble. Yet, bring a sandwich into the equation and there really are no limits. I’ve seen them land on a head, on a shoulder, on a child…. Apparently, although I only saw this through social media, it was reported that, during the summer, a seagull picked up and flew away with a chihuahua somewhere in the noth of England. Luckily for me Freja (my chihuahua) is rather on the portly side and so unless the ‘flying rat’ is the bird equivalent of hulk, I thinkn Freja’ll be OK. But, can you believe it? Are there no limits to a seagull’s pest like nature?
The only other time I’ve seen such avian audacity was in St Mark’s square in Venice where a woman attempted to sit on a bench and eat a flaky, puff pastry biscuit type of a thing. Amusingly, all around the square, were signs commanding that you “should not to feed the pigeons” – almost as if it were a choice you could make. This poor woman, again clearly an unknowing visitor, soon began to regret her mid morning snack as her shrieks confirmed. Within seconds, she was covered in pigeons… from a distance she looked kind of like a bee keeper. She was quite literally covered, head to almost toe, in pigeons. Of course she promptly dropped said biscuit and the excitement was over.
Back to seagulls. For all of their nuisance making antics and my being thoroughly programmed with the idea that they are really vermin, there is something that I just love about them. As I sat yesterday on the terrace of my apartment overlooking Playa de Las Canteras, one soared right past me. This isn’t an unusual experience but every time it happens, it just fills me with delight. The apartment is on the corner and quite high up, it ‘juts out’ enough that it isn’t uncommon for a seagull to soar across the corner at almost eye level. The look in their eye is so knowing; they are so peaceful, so majestic almost.
“Flight of my mind rises beneath the seagull’s wings… then ocean is my motherland I feel” Munia Khan
Of course I’m in awe of a seagull. Look where they get to hang out everyday. They wing their way over the waves and bob around on the surface of the sea. Their habitat is the ocean and my spiritual home and centre. So perhaps they’re like mascots to me. They symbolise what I love perhaps the most. Maybe so, but it’s not just that. It’s the way they soar. That’s what gets me. That calm elegance. That sense of being totally at ease and in the flow of life… inspiring indeed.
“As I watched the seagulls, I thought, ‘That’s the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust’” Nikos Kazantzakis
But anyway, this blog is the life and times of Steve and Graeme… You’ll soon see that I’m not the only one who loves a seagull. During May of 2019 two “inquisitive seagulls became internet sensations” as the London Metro reported. Steve and Graeme, as they became affectionately known, took the country by storm after seeming to pose and ‘talk to’ the traffic cameras on the approach to London’s Blackwall Tunnel. Traffic for London tweeted the picture of ‘Steve’ (or perhaps it was Graeme, I don’t know them personally and the picture did not say) and it received 15,000 likes. From this a sensation was born. Why not take a look at them here:
There’s no doubt there’s something about seagulls. Scavengers they may be but, in my opinion, they rather enviably have the best view of the world. They also have an apparent confidence and, according to reports from London, perhaps a sense of humour too.