They get a bad press but seagulls (or herring gulls, noticeable by the red spot on their beaks) are a massive part of Cornish life, from trailing the fishing boats as they land their catch, to the noise of the seaside you remember from your childhood. When you hear the gulls, you know you’ve arrived.

The downside is, they are not above stealing your chips, pasty or even a snatch of your cream tea.

We humans have made gulls into a problem. They, like many wild animals and birds, will opt for easy food if it is available, so people feeding them over the years has led to their increasingly brave food-theft escapades.

If a gull has its beady eye on you then there are some tips to avoid contact.

First, don’t feed them. If you can’t finish your bag of chips, put them in the (covered) bin, not on the floor for the gulls who learn to enjoy the rewards of hanging around looking hopeful.

Don’t think throwing the food makes a difference, either.

It helps to keep away from wide open spaces. If you walk the narrow streets of, say, St Ives, rather than eat food on the beach, you are less likely to be pestered.

Keep a watchful eye on children who may wave their food around inadvertently tempting the gulls.

If you have your dog with you on holiday, its canine presence will probably keep the gulls at a distance – your Labrador may get the chips instead, though!

Be careful about disturbing gulls because if under threat, they summons support. It is an offence to harm a gull, but they can be maddeningly noisy, especially at breeding time.

Gulls are not something from a Hitchcock movie, but some towns do seem to attract more than others. Big gull towns are Looe, St Ives, Mevagissey, Newquay, Fowey, Falmouth and Padstow (some of the busiest towns and fishing harbours) yet if you pop along to somewhere like Bude, they largely leave you alone – all of which makes us realise that gulls learn from their environment.

Have fun, enjoy your food and keep the gulls at bay.


Related Native species, Wild Cornwall