Love ‘em or loathe ‘em in Brighton we live side by side with the seagulls. The feathered variety (as well as those blokes playing with balls in Falmer). For we co-habitees of raucous brazen scavengers, their cackling invokes in equal measure irritation, fear, respect and grudging affection. However phone conversations with the land locked are often interrupted with predictable oohs and aahs as the perpetual background sound of seagull cries evokes fond memories. Visitors associate plaintive gull cries with sun, sea and holidays. We associate them with ripped bin bags, white streaked washing, sausage stealing (they love a good barbie) and the occasional dive bomb.
High summer is a perilous time as the next generation of roof dwelling raiders morph from cute balls of fluff to beefy brown birds. They flap and nearly fly, fall off roofs, and waddle around the on the ground standing curiously in front of oncoming cars, poking beaks into everything and trying to eat it. So what happens when one drops in on a small walled garden? Total domestic devastation.
Dave (named by rescuer no. 2) managed to walk off a flat roof. He settled down for the night in an undergrowth spot already moulded for comfort by unwelcomed cats. Having survived the night undisturbed, he continued exploring – bashing down shrubs, upturning seedlings, pecking at laundry and emptying his capacious bottom over chairs and washing. Despite the damage it made entertaining viewing. His family sat on the roof pretending to ignore the exploits – even when a chase got under way. Getting a large flapping gull out of undergrowth isn’t easy – however – eventually grabbed and placed gently on the shed roof – all seemed as it should be. Preferring to peer back into the interesting things in the garden rather than an empty roof top, he slipped and tumbled back. Great.
To get him on a higher roof someone taller was required. A man hunt turned up a tentative volunteer from a team of nearby builders. He caught Dave, who called his mum to let her know, she called her mates. A dozen gulls swung by squawking encouragement. The man misinterpreted the cries and half way up the ladder to the roof, dropped Dave and fled to Google.
A call to Roger the local voluntary wildlife rescuer found him already busy tending 200 (yes 200) hapless gulls. Advice from his helper – get the gull on the roof. We’re trying. Meanwhile feathers by now quite ruffled, from all that running through bushes, Dave had settled back on the patio chair.
Next stop the fire station then? But, in bungaroosh land, where buildings are built to crumble, a scaffolder is never far away. What man could resist a request for someone a bit taller and brave enough to take on a little bird, and the chance to win the title of hardest man in the ‘hood? The roof workers of Brighton are resistant to a dive or a well aimed evacuation…. its all in a days work, apparently. So, though I never knew his name, today’s hero donned sturdy jacket, gloves and floppy hat, and strode up the road flexing his long arms. Dave yielded immediately to a swift grab, and accepted his place back on the roof. Albeit in a bit of a sulk.