Sunday, April 27, 2008

Devon Predators

If you visit any coastal place in England, you'll likely see a sign warning you not to feed the seagulls. Acording to the sign "they might look pretty but they can be aggessive and could easily injure people, especially small children." These signs are generally regarded by most foreigners(certainly the Greek ones!)as yet another proof that the English are lilly-livered softies.

Peter and I have had many a chuckle over the past 3 years about the vicious Devon Predators (and continued feeding them, needless to say.)

Mother Nature once again had the last laugh.

Last week we were running some errands in a neighbouring town. It was a lovely day so we had made some sandwiches and went to a park to have a picnic on the grass. I handed the sandwitches around and sure enough, the seagulls spotted the food and gathered around, waiting for bits and leftovers. Nothing new there. We threw them a few crisps and bread crusts, and Matilda had a great time calling out to them.

SCENE: Mother, Father and young children are having a good time. The sun is shining, their cheeks are red, and their laughter tinkling. They are the picture of health and care free cheer. SUDDENLY... A cloud moves over the sun. In the distance, thunder rumbles.

More and more seagulls seemed to be gathering around us. Peter laughed and said "Look! We're surrounded." Suddenly, I became aware of just how big Devon seagulls are. They're as big as our cats, with their wings closed. They could certainly easily take them (Domino would be too slow for them, and Scrabble would be too stupid.) Their beaks are as long as my finger, and they have a red mark on the side. The blood of their previous victims? Their eyes are a dead, pale yellow. Three or four of them stand in front of Philip's buggy, beaks wide open, flap their wings and scream. I can see right down their throat. It's pinky-grey, and dirty.

It's all starting to seem a bit spooky now. Matilda hugs Peter's legs, and says "What do the birds want, daddy?" I get up when a seagull gets close enough to start pecking at the plastic bag that holds our sandwiches. All around us there are maybe thirty seagulls. Suddenly one of them flies at Peter and grabs the sandwich out of his hand. Another one starts pecking at the piece of bread Philip is holding, and he starts crying. I swing my plastic bag around, like an old lady trying to deter a mugger. I don't manage to hit one. It's just as well - I wonder if they would retaliate. As it is, all they do is take a couple of steps back and watch us. We quickly pack up (me swinging the bag around the whole time) and get up to leave. A gang of seagulls follows us until we get off the grass, then goes off to find the next victim, and we breathe a sigh of relief.

I still reserve the right to make fun of the signs warning us not to feed the pigeons though. ("they might look pretty but they can be aggessive and could easily injure people, especially small children." ) Now THAT is far fetched.

...Until it happens to YOU.

Thunder crackles. Maniacal laughter echoes in the distance.


Megan said...

See, this is precisely why I hate feeding the birds. I remember as a small child being chased out of a park by Canadian Geese and a swan - it was terrifying. Poor Max and Luke may never get to feed the birds! Glad you all survived!

Xrisavghi said...

Ok...that was scary...Kala re, sovara milas?...Glaroi-dolofonoi...akou na deis...
Filia se olous:)