We’ve begun revising for GCSE exams by working through past papers. A recent English paper from Wales asked students to read about urban herring gulls.
That noisy juvenile in Cornwall was amusing, but I’ve also had run-ins with these resourceful birds, swooping down to steal a seaside lunch, attacking my students and me when we dared venture into the yard behind our building to raise a phone signal, but most especially at that same building when I rescued a juvenile whose first flight flopped down the boiler room steps. His ungrateful parents were not amused but my students were.
The other evening at dusk I was still pruning the bushes that divide our garden from the public footpath, with passers-by homing from work or school, many of them wearing earphones. Difficult even to make eye contact through their personal bubbles!
Yet above their heads flew an army of gulls, effortlessly homing to their roosts along the salt marshes, their subhuman calls echoing from the surrounding house walls, their white bellies glowing back gold to the dying sun: one of winter’s blessings.