13 JANUARY 1939, Page 18

Inland Gulls

If the inroad of larks into towns is a new phenomenon so is the presence of gulls far inland. Stray gulls always were

to be seen inland in or before foul weather ; but this Christmas several species of gull took up their abode in and about inland towns. To give one example out of many, St. Albans has entertained a good quantity both of the blackheaded, which are the particular friends of London, and of herring gull, which are much more marine in habit. Never to my knowledge have so many sorts, including even the greater blackback, been seen up the Thames, even inland of London. The blackbacks are proving the curse of Mr. Lockley's delectable Welsh island; and he attributes their immunity to persecution to the excessive prosperity of the bracken which gives the young birds complete protection. It is a question whether these• savage birds or that maleficent weed has earned the deepest abhorrence. In general the bracken is much the greater- enemy. It harbours rabbits even more successfully than black-backed gulls. It harbours the worst insect enemies of both man and sheep; and above all it is as successful as the prickly pear in Australia in destroying pasture. The grazing lands of the West and North have been reduced by thousands of acres, and yet its extirpa- tion is comparatively easy.

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