Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Great-black Backed Gull

(1) Great Black-Backed Gull
(1) Great Black-Backed Gull
(2) Great Black-Backed Gull
(2) Great Black-Backed Gull
(3) With Cormorant
(3) With Cormorant
(4) Adult
(4) Adult

  

 

The Great Black backed Gull

                                                       One would have thought that there being literally hundreds of gulls around Bute, with Rothesay having more than their share of them compared to other parts of the Island, that it would be easy to get images of every species without any bother, but no! It is not as easy as would appear.

Take the Herring Gull, more so an immature one.  To get an image of one I only need to go to the Taxi Rank beside the public entrance to the pier.  There on most days I can get plenty to film, as they are all waiting for people to come and feed them, and they are well fed, and unafraid of me or my camera, and I don’t need to zoom in to them to get a decent image.  But as I am doing so many others descend on the wall wanting share of what they think I have, of which I have none.

So that is the immature ones dealt with, now to the adults.  They are a bit more ‘street wise’, and will take no nonsense from me or others. As I do not feed them they have no time for me, so I have to be a wee bit sneaky.  I have something to eat myself, and that attracts them, giving me a chance to get images, but I have to be quick or they will be off, or worse still, try to get to what it is that I am eating.

 

The Greater Black backed ones are more evasive and always keep a good distance away from me.  They are always on the alert, and when you get one of them in sight, they take to the wing.  They do not want a titbit that you may throw to them; they have their own diet that changes with the seasons.  They will delve into anything edible that gets washed up on the shore or even if it still afloat.  They will get that type of meal in all seasons.  Breeding time for other species is bean feast time for them.

Not for them is sitting on rooftops waiting to be fed, no they prefer the beach, where all gulls should be, but unfortunately do not.

A few weeks ago as I was having a run on the mainland, I decided to go to Helensburgh for a fish Supper.  Now, that is a coastal town like Rothesay, with its compliment of Gulls, so supper in a cardboard container and back to my car, then I thought, if I eat it in the car, it would be stinking of fish for days, so I stopped at an electricity control box with a flat top at the parking area just off the main road so box open, then awaiting the onslaught of gulls trying to get their fair share of my lunch.  But none appeared, there were plenty on the shore, but stayed there, so I was left in piece to enjoy my lunch undisturbed. The fish batter was soft, so I was dropping small  pieces of fish at my feet, but I left them there to be eaten by any passing bird or animal.

Supper finished, I did a bit of window shopping for about 30 minutes then returned to my car, only to see the pieces of fish were still there!

Now that would never happen in Rothesay, but why? 

Bute used to have a landfill site off Westland’s Road, and all refuse was dumped there, and then covered up with soil etc. But not until the gulls had their fill.  During nesting time, bellies full, then off to Lord James' Ride  of the Scoulag Moor road, or to the Straad and other places to  feed there chicks.   This went on for years and years and years, then it became a Transfer site, and that put an end to free meals for the gulls, but they stayed in and about Rothesay causing many problems, and they look like being here for many generations to come.  But this did not affect the Great Black backed Gulls they carried on as the way that they have always done, not causing any harm to man nor beast, (except at breeding times).

As I have said previously, with Mink and Foxes on the Island they have stopped breeding in areas that they used to nest due to these predators and have alighted on mass on our rooftops.

Norrie Mulholland

 

First Published in the Buteman 31-05-2013.

  

 


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