I hate seagulls. Or rather, herring gulls, and yesterday I was reminded just why.
The downside to living in any town or city on the coast means they are a natural part of life, and one everybody resents. To give them credit, I understand they’ve been driven to the cities because there isn’t enough food at sea for them anymore, but that doesn’t make them any less tolerable.
For one thing, they’re absolutely fearless. On top of which, they’re as smart as they are vindictive. Don’t think for a second they’re not intelligent – they’ve long since learned that humans are easy targets and both a source of entertainment and food. Find me another city that has a shoplifting sea fowl as a local celebrity…
I was struck dumb when my roommate claimed she’d never had any problems with gulls, because I’m pretty sure living in the Granite City requires losing a meal to a bird as a rite of passage. They scope out from the sky and if they spot a burger, sandwich, cake or alternative food source in the hands of one hapless city dweller, they descend. The closest thing you get to a warning is a shadow on your shoulder, before a brush of wind, a sharp pain on your cheek from the passing claws and very empty hands. When you look up, there will be a gull snacking on your lunch a few metres in front of you, possibly with friends cackling their heads off.
Rookies will at this point try to get revenge and rush the birdie. Then find themselves fleeing for their lives as the thief and his posse take to the sky and attack them en masse, forcing you to flee into the closest building. Those of us who are experienced in this, just brush the blood away from the cheek, curse the flying buggers and keep on walking.
I’ve lost count of the number of meals I’ve lost to the gulls. Happened enough times that I instinctively duck whenever I see a shadow on my shoulder (don’t care how many people laugh at me – it’s worth it to see the buzzard fly over and falter) – It’s even gotten to the point that I have to cover my food with one hand and walk hunched if I’m ever eating and running.
However, although that may be the most common source of annoyance, it’s not the one that had me riled. Yesterday afternoon, while waiting at the traffic lights and enjoying another sunny weekend, I felt a smattering of wet drops across my back. First instinct was rain – until the woman in the white shirt beside me shuddered and wailed.
Yup, birdies had gone to the edge, aimed, and fired. They’d been really active in the hot weather recently – I’ve had no less than 5 near misses this month, literally by inches. I’d been lucky enough to get away with minimal damage – mostly on my bag. The poor woman next to me had it all over her hair and shoulders, and I had to rush home to make sure it wasn’t on my hair or similar and I just couldn’t see it.
Luckily enough, no. Which makes it far superior to the last time I was targeted – vindictive bird had the entire street to himself, let he chose to defecate when 3 people were directly under him – the only people on that side of the street at all. Ended up having to toss that jacket after that too – and I really liked it!
Then again, I’m sure we’re not the only city with a bird problem. Considering other places have to worry about insects or reptiles or even the neighbours, gulls are generally tolerable. Just wish they would at least act a little afraid – it’s bad enough they sound like velociraptor’s in Jurassic Park, can’t they at least fly away when we walk past?