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A seagull marriage

Posted by Simon Parke, 29 June 2019, 7.23am

We have two seagulls, Peter and Mrs Peter; they’ve been together awhile.

I don’t know if they’re in love, but they work together to get things done.

They live on our roof and have lived here longer than we have.

This is their house, which they defend daily from other seagulls and rooks.

And we are regarded as staff. It’s like Upstairs, Downstairs. They live upstairs, we live downstairs – and provide for them.

Every year, their coming together produces three offspring. They grow up on the roof, without any nesting.

While they are growing, Peter and Mrs Peter are very insistent about food. There are no days off for the staff, and they will bang on the windows with their beaks if service is slow.

I write this with Peter looking into my office, from his wall place.

He’s disappointed.

We sometimes think Mrs Peter should leave Peter. He can be very aggressive over food; and occasionally attacks her neck with his beak.

He struggles to share.

But they work together to control the skies over their roof; particularly when there are young around.

Not everyone likes seagulls. Like humans, they are ruthless scavengers for food.

And they are very nervous, and therefore aggressive, when they have young to protect.

Though Peter and Mrs Peter are never aggressive towards us. And when children come to stay, they come down and say hello – happy to be pleasant to the staff’s children for a while.

It’s what Lords and Ladies of the manor do.

Sometimes Peter comes inside the kitchen, if the door is left open. I suppose its good to see how the servants live.

The other day, he continued on while we were in the garden. We looked across to the house, and saw him looking out at us from the front room, standing by the piano.

They are big, seagulls.

‘They are so big!’ say people when they see them close up.

And, ‘Aren’t they called herring gulls, technically? I read that somewhere.’ (Yes, they are.)

They’re not very good parents beyond the early days of survival. Most of their offspring are killed by foxes. They come down off the roof too early, before they can fly properly, and can’t get back to safety.

But some survive, and make marriages for themselves. Seagulls stay together, through thick and thin.

I’m not saying it’s right; because sometime the behaviour is pretty thin. But to be honest, they couldn’t give a hoot about the opinions of staff.

They were here before us and we know our place.

Staff should always know their place.

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