The Listening to Birds Blog

Song Thrush by Nigel Pye //


Here in Aberdeen you’re never far away from a gull and its evocative call.  Here are some thoughts about ‘seagulls’ of one sort or another.

From Sharron in Fife:

Seagulls can be a pain but I love it when there’s a fight between a gull and a crow. I’ve managed to catch this on camera a few times, always first alerted by the racket.

Rebecca Sargent comments:

I love to hear the birds, although the herring gulls (of which there are plenty of in Hastings) can be a bit tiresome sometimes!

Cate Butler writes:

Herring gulls always used to put me in mind of Cornish sea villages but now I live in Bath/Bristol they are very commonplace.

From Bob Woldie in Woking:

I have visited the coast countless times since I was a small boy (I’m 45 now) and, unlike some people, I enjoy the sound of sea gulls. Oddly though, whenever I hear a sea gull I am first reminded of the only occasion when I did not enjoy the sound. That happened about 25 years ago when I was kept awake all night by the incessant cries of the gulls around Looe in Cornwall.

Peter Soar from Cambridge writes:

Earlier this year I went deaf, so birdsong is a memory. First memory – as a boy of 5 or 6 arriving on holiday at Sidmouth, Devon where we spent most of our summer holidays. The sound of the gulls was the first sound of the holiday, after that of the steam engine which hauled our train. Very evocative; I suppose you count gulls’ cries as birdsong.

From David Macefield in Thames Ditton:

The cry of a herring gull also takes me to the seaside. Why is that they never seem to make much sound when inland?

Jack Matthias from Nainamo, British Columbia writes:

The sound of glaucous-winged seagulls resident on the west coast of Canada (in British Columbia) is a sound I grew up with near the shore in Vancouver. Hearing it now brings a peace to my soul, knowing I have finally returned to this part of the world. The sound was particularly associated with travel on the British Columbia ferries in earlier days when garbage was dumped overboard. The gulls, being scavengers, would set up a great hue and cry as they fought over the spoils.

A writer from Exeter comments:

I love the sound of herring gulls. I grew up in a seaside town on the south Devon coast so was used to the sound of hundreds of noisy squawking herring gulls, especially during the summer months when they are nesting and scavenging for food. I moved up north for a good few years far away from the coast and used to get terribly homesick. During my trips back to my home town to visit family, the sound of the herring gulls always struck me and filled me with joy because I new I was back home!

From a writer in Glasgow:

I suspect lots of people may, like me, smell a phantom whiff of seaweed and a memory of a childhood holiday when they hear a gull cry, even if they’re in the heart of the city miles from the shore.

From George McCissock in North Queensferry:

I used to associate the herring gull’s cry with summer holidays, as we always went to the coast for our holidays, and this was before the time that gulls started to forage far inland for food. I remember the glorious feeling of waking to seagulls and realising I really was on holiday, and then my parents grumbling over breakfast about how early the gulls had woken them!

From Lynda Read:

Memories from my childhood of annual holidays in Devon and Cornwall, they seemed so audacious and big. I used to get scared when my mother used to hold up sandwich crusts to the swirling mewing gulls when they used to swoop in and snatch from her outstretched arm. For the last 27 years living in Sandwich, seagulls are now different creatures. They are an intermittent part of the day. Annoying me by waking me up by bickering as they fly down the road just above roof height on their way to the landfill site outside Sandwich at Richborough for breakfast. In nearby towns such as Dover, Deal, Margate etc. gulls are pests and rip open bin bags left out for collection and strew rubbish everywhere and can be very aggressive during nesting time. So they are no longer the romantic, nostalgic reminders of lovely childhood holidays. Occasionally, only occasionally a gull will call and I am taken back to Porthcurno or St Ives.

From Dee Coulson in Ellon:

Bird sounds and songs have been part of my life since a small child. I remember arriving at my Grandma’s seaside Devon town on the train, with the sound of the seagulls mixed with steam trains hissing across the platform on arrival. We had arrived to the sound of the seagulls, smell of steam trains and sea air which I had impatiently anticipated since leaving our home in the suburbs. This is my earliest recollection of how interwoven bird sound can be with experience, emotion and memory. Today when I hear the sound of gulls I still remember the whole experience of being at my Grandmother’s house for summer holidays.

Daniel Eames from Northampton writes:

As a child from Northampton we only used to visit the coast once a year and even though Gulls can often be aggressive pests, they still remind me of fond childhood memories.

And from Gordon Smith in Aberdeen:

A Common Gull, just this moment, cried outside my room window. My instant response to that is clear pictures of massed trawlers at Point Law (Pint La) where I spent school holidays, 1948 to 1952, with my grandfather and uncle who were ships riggers at HE Stroud Trawel Owners, Market Street. Also pictured is the fish market with hundreds of huge halibut and thousands of boxes of fish, and scavenging gulls, in their hundreds if not thousands.

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