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Back in the summer of 2013 I met gull expert, Peter Rock and was lucky enough to accompany him as he ringed some of the fledging chicks on the roofs of Bristol (See my blog here!). It was a fascinating insight into the hidden lives of an underrated bird that is widely misunderstood and considered as a pest. I therefore jumped at the opportunity to repeat the same experience again this year.
Peter has gained a lot of media coverage for his work with urban gulls, including an appearance on Springwatch and countless articles in newspapers. This occasion was no different as we were joined by cameramen filming for a possible pilot about gulls in urban areas. Personally I hope more can be done to tell the story of such an overlooked species. It had only been a year since I had last met Peter above the streets of Bristol and yet it felt instantly different. The same apparent mass of gull activity peppered the skies but down on the nesting grounds, things seemed scarce. I knew from previous experience that the council have been replacing eggs with fakes in the hope of cutting down a thriving population. However, it was shocking to find on one roof, that every lesser black-backed gull nest of which there were two of three, had been attacked with the egg replacement scheme (These birds are amber status). Each nest had around 3 or 4 fake eggs. That's 3 or 4 chicks from each nest that won't break free to see the light of day. The council will replace several thousand eggs a year in Bristol as well as putting forward other pointless, hap-hazard schemes such as netting and ledge spikes. Luckily the Herring Gull population escape the slaughter as they are still a protected red status species. It has become all too apparent in recent years that the government and some organisations in positions of power are too quick to ignore the science and too eager to find an easy route out - usually at the cost of the lives of our wildlife and the resulting breaking down of our ecosystem. I hope it will soon be time to change and I am personally very thankful that there are people like Peter, who are doing the research in aid of the conservation of our wildlife.