26 MAY 1939, Page 19

Predacious Gulls The characters of birds are continually being whitewashed

by admirers, but it is regrettable to confess that in regard to some species the whitewash is being removed. Almost

all the gulls come into the new index expurgaiorius. The change in the habits of these birds to a more inland life has been referred to more than once on this page. Now the well- informed British Field Sports Society records it as an historic fact that many sorts besides the black-headed gull habitually come inland to feed and have become more predatory. Almost the only species that is altogether acquitted is the charming and rather local kittiwake. The black-listers are not, I think, quite accurate historically in dating from 1898 the arrival of the gulls in large quantity in London. The movement up the Thames began on a considerable scale a good deal earlier and was due perhaps (or so certain parallel occurrences suggest) to bird preservation, especially in Essex, not less than to exceptionally hard winters. Those who deeply complain of the attacks by gulls on nesting birds are the owners of grouse moors, and their list includes (to my astonishment) the Londoner's friend, the little black-headed species. These gulls, of course, have always been ready to nest inland. One at any rate of their older nurseries is quite fifty miles inland