Are their cries overhead a welcome reminder of sunny seaside days or is the presence of inland gulls strictly for the birds? That’s the question facing Lisburn.
The ‘seagull’-eyed among Bow Street shoppers will have spotted evidence of a penthouse nest tucked away among the chimney-pots atop the Argento store.
But are the chatty chicks peeping out from between the pots the jewel in Argento’s crown or an airborne menace in the making?
In a Bow Street lately bathed in Mediterranean-like sunshine there are those inclined to give the urban gulls, with their coastal vibe, the benefit of the doubt, but in other cities, Belfast and Dublin among them, the tide of public opinion yearns to sweep away visitors deemed, at best, raucous, at worst, vicious.
In Dublin, the talk is of rowdy seagulls keeping people awake with their cries and, more alarmingly, attacking young children, from whom they have been known to snatch lollipops
There, a senator has called on the government to take action, insisting that while it might seem funny to many people, it is a serious issue.
Closer to home, in Belfast, where an increase in city centre seagulls has not gone unnoticed, historic complaints include gulls attacking pets, scattering litter and covering cars in droppings. More recently though, reports have emerged of the birds attacking, killing and even eating feral pigeons.
Long established in urban areas within a certain radius of the coast, even inland near rivers, gulls now seem to be nesting much farther from the shore and the question for many city-dwellers is, ‘why are seagulls apparently abandoning the sea’? The answer being offered is one of safety and opportunism.
Experts say the urban gull population is taking off because high rooftop nests afford protection from predators, so more chicks survive, and waste strewn about town and city streets or sent to landfill makes for a ready meal.
It seems that, as with mankind before them, towns and cities are a land of opportunity for gulls. It remains to be seen if Bow Street’s fledgeling few herald a future baby-bird boom, but on available evidence the earthbound might be wise to watch the skies.
Let us know what you think of Lisburn’s city-centre gulls on our website www.ulsterstar.co.uk or via our facebook page.