The sound of seagulls

Growing up, as I did, on the west coast of England the sound of seagulls was very common. They seemed to thrive in all sorts of conditions but especially loved the summer holidays when those “inland” people would come down to Cornwall for their seaside fix. These visitors didn’t really know about how crafty the seagulls were and how smart! They could see a fresh chip or a nice bit of fried cod from a mile away and would come swooping down to snatch it out of the unsuspecting “foreigner’s” fingers. We locals would chuckle to ourselves. Silly idiots sitting on the harbour wall with their fish and chips spread out on the newspaper resting on the wall. Of course the seagulls are going to be homing in on them.

While the seagulls were a nuisance to the holidaymakers they were also a nuisance to the village, especially when they were stomping up and down on the roof and pooping on the gutters. Poor old seagulls. They don’t get a break really. No-one seems to like them.

They have become so bold amongst us humans that some workmen have had to wear helmets to protect themselves against them – “Workers at a Devon council have been issued with crash helmets – to protect them from dive-bombing seagulls.  Flocks of seagulls have been attacking staff who collect weather data from the roof of council offices in Newton Abbot. One victim, David Potter, said: ‘It can be really bad and it’s getting worse. It is my fourth year doing the job and there are more and more gulls.  ‘The big gulls swoop at my head and are backed up by half a dozen others which scream and dive-bomb me. ‘It’s very distressing but at least we now have crash helmets to protect us from being pecked about the head and face.’ 

Gosh, it sounds like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

These seagulls can get quite cheeky and over-confident. There is one in Scotland who apparently just walks into the shop there and helps himself to his favourite, a package of Doritos. He grabs them and heads outside and shares with his friends. Well, there’s a good boy. Your mom brought you up good! He has become so famous there that locals pay the shop for his stolen goods so he doesn’t get into trouble.

But I do love the sound of the seagulls. When I hear them I can just find myself back on the grassy cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula with the wind blowing and the waves smashing up against the rocks and, of course, the cry of the seagulls.

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Calgary and was greeted by the cry of seagulls. How can this be, I thought. There isn’t an ocean anywhere near. It just doesn’t feel right. Oh don’t worry about that, I was told. They live off the garbage dumps here and disappear in the winter. Well who knew that seagulls would travel so far inland? What a weird place to stop for a rest. Not much in the way of seafood here – but then again if you take a look at the seagull’s diet, maybe it is a good place to be.

Still, I am pretty glad they are here. After this long long spell of no travel (and no ocean) it’s kind of nice to sit at my desk in the evening and hear the seagulls outside in the parking lot. I can close my eyes and pretend, just for a minute, that I am back on the cliffs without a care in the world.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I’m surprised with seagulls here in Calgary too! I kid you not, the only time I have ever been mugged in my life was when a seagull stole my sandwich. I thought I was being careful, but it seems like seagulls are getting more sneaky. This one came up right behind me and hit me with its wings


  2. I grew up in the West coast of BC White Rock, beautiful place along the Pacific ocean. We used to go down to the beach all the time and eat Fish n chips, sit on the rocks or big pieces of driftwood. We would hear the seagulls above our heads or they would sit down in front of us but never did they ever try to steal our food.


  3. Loved this one Lesley & and had to share it with our grown kids. We were all in La Jolla on the beach one spring and as totally unsuspecting tourists packed a nice lunch for us all. No sooner had we handed our grand-kids their snacks, the Seagulls were on them …… and us, too! It was a chaotic scene and I’m sure very entertaining for the other beach goers!! Ha! Like you, I do love the sound of them tho. Takes me right back to the seashore, marinas and great memories.


      1. Alas … no photos …. too much craziness going on at the time. A few very upset grandkids!! They called them “Jerk Birds” – ha! And yes, agree ….. Magpies all wrangling around at 6 in the morning … ooooff!!


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