Skyrattus alive and well in Devon

Posted on June 6, 2011

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Some people hate foxes because they eat their chickens or rip up their bin bags, others hate squirrels because they eat all the nuts from the bird table. We in Ilfracombe hate seagulls, or more specifically Herring Gulls because they swoop and steal your chips.

The Herring gull (Larus argentatus also known as skyrat here in Devon) are large, noisy and messy gulls found throughout the year around our coasts and inland, around rubbish tips, fields, reservoirs and lakes, especially during winter. Adults have light grey backs, white under parts, and black wing tips with white ‘mirrors’. Their legs are pink, with webbed feet and they have heavy, slightly hooked bills marked with a red spot. Young birds are mottled brown. They have suffered moderate declines over the past 25 years and over half of their UK breeding population is confined to fewer than ten sites. One of them is here. They nest on cliffs with grassy slopes, shingle beaches, small islands and rooftops in seaside towns. 

Being a scavenger, they often get into trouble with rubbish, here’s our local character known as ‘blackfoot’ who has a piece of nylon net around both feet, which is slowly squeezing the life out of his right web. Blackfoot

Of course hate is a strong word and it must be annoying to be on holiday and have your ice cream knocked out of your hand by a big, fat, noisy bird or even worse a herring gul, but when the pair that have nested on the roof top opposite hatched 3 chicks over the weekend even the most hateful geoffrey boycott couldn’t help but to warm to the little fluffy young thugs.

Canon 5D with 70 – 200mm f2.8 IS & 600mm f4 IS

Click on image to enlarge.

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