I was in Barrow on a hospital visit when I saw the above Lesser Black-backed Gull as I stopped for fuel. It has a crossbow bolt through its neck. I grabbed a few shots, but the bird rather understandably didn’t allow close approach. It appears to have other bolts / bolt wounds as well, but I’m not sure how many times it has actually been fired upon.
The photographs have generated a significant reaction on Twitter. I fully understand this, but I’ve personally seen it before. I may have mentioned a Herring Gull with an equally gruesome crossbow bolt injury that survived for several year on Devonshire Road in Blackpool. I never got an image of that bird, the one below is another of the Lesser Black-backed from Saturday.
On the other hand there were two other things I saw or that were going on in Barrow over the weekend that reflected better on us as a species. A Herring Gull which had sadly got tangled in roof netting in the town centre was the subject of a rescue attempt. Unfortunately the bird could not be saved, but it was heartening to see people care enough to try and do something.
The other thing that I’ve mentioned before on here is the campaign to raise awareness of goslings on roads adjacent to Ormsgill Reservoir, Parker’s Pond, Barrow Park and so on. As the first of the new generation of Greylags have begun to appear the posters have gone back up for this heartening community initiative.
There are so many situations where one group of people are persecuting or ‘pest controlling’ a species which others are trying to save at an individual level. For example feral pigeons are shot for being a nuisance, whilst Peregrines are illegally despatched for being a nuisance to pigeons but young of both that get into scrapes in the next few weeks will be given care and attention to help them survive.
To come back to an old theme gulls need good PR agents. Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are both declining at significant rates, yet because they increasingly nest in urban settings there is a misconception that there is a population explosion going on. All power to the elbow of those who care about them and care for them, the birds need all the friends they can get.
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