The British papers have been banging on about the possibility that seagulls could chow down on a baby after one was photographed swallowing a rat hole. This story was then followed by a tirade of ridiculous anecdotes from celeb’s recanting their own encounters with these birds and even going as far as to suggest they have become the last line of defence against illegals entering Blighty from France by using swooping attack formations.
In the past there have been reports of small dogs attacked like Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas, leading to serious discussions being pencilled in a few years back on how to deal with the problem in parliament or a ‘big conversation’ as David Cameron has said with culling in mind as a solution. In the past seaside resorts have attempted to crack down on the pests and banned the feeding of the birds only for their plans to be scuppered on the grounds they may offend certain religious groups, including Jews and Hindus, who believe they have a duty to feed animals.
I remember stories of people throwing Alka-Seltzer in the air for the birds to catch and swallow and then a few minutes later exploding in a pink mist of gore and intestinal confetti splattering old ladies at the seaside sipping their high teas – this, of course, is a macabre urban myth and stems from another myth that birds cannot expel gas. No need to prove this scientifically, just look at YouTube. Where are those – “WOW watch this seagull explode” videos?
My own experience with seagulls, here on Peacock-island, Benidorm. The headquarters of the local Spanish Mob. If you walk up the hill to the other side of the rock you will encounter them and it feels like the scene from an Alfred Hitchcock film. They eye you and communicate with each other spiking a little paranoia. I could have sworn, when I spun around fast, one was pointing at me whilst two more laughed at his comment. They give you the feeling that any moment they are going to kick off and the size of the things when you get up close.
Villajoyosa had an abandoned building project on the beach for years and the crane arm was slued across the road. In summer, it was impossible to park your car, but there were always places under the crane – those who lived there knew why. The crane arm had become a massive perch for hundreds of defecating seagulls. The state of the cars, after a few hours, looked like works from the New York artist Dan Colen.
Sat dining al fresco at a seafront restaurant in Calpe. It had a display of plastic langoustines and crabs in an open cabinet. The missus and I sat eating lunch when a huge gull swooped down and grabbed one of the plastic crustaceans and spat it out and then scoped the plates that had been left. Hopping from one table to the next, brazen attitude and gorged on leftovers.
We human diners took photographs in disbelief. Suddenly, the waiter came blasting out the kitchen with the temerity of a tormented bull from Pamplona and shooed the bird off to a round of jeers. The bird flew up to a lamppost and every time the waiter disappeared into the kitchen he jumped back down onto the display, had another go at the plastic food and mooched about for scraps – this kept being repeated and became comical to watch.
Looking at the size of this bird, its street smarts, bravery and nonchalance towards tea-towel swirling Spanish waiters. If they did decide to launch a campaign of terror against us I think they would do some real damage.