100 years ago: Gulls return to Lakeland fells and valleys

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 4 September 1913

The weather we have had has brought forward a crop of mushrooms, and many of the country folk in North Cumberland have been busy, when time could be spared from harvest work, in gathering and marketing them. But the supply has ceased since the cold weather came on Monday. Should the hot, sunny weather come again there will be money to be made also in blackberry gathering, as seldom has there been such a show of fruit on the brambles. In the north of Cumberland, where there are many orchards, the crop of apples and pears is very poor, but there have been many plums, and bush fruit was plentiful.

The birds, since the Acts have come into operation giving them protection, have increased to a wonderful extent in this district, not only in the mountains, but in every part of the country to the Solway. A pair of blackheaded gulls in years gone by made their appearance when the drake fly was on Derwentwater, but seldom was a second pair to be seen. Now gulls of many species are about the vale of Keswick in hundreds. I counted thirty-two on some rocks near St. Herbert’s Island last Thursday, and a cloud of them were flying over the meadows north of the lake this morning, attracted by some offal. The anglers may complain, but farmers will not suffer much from gulls. I am sorry to say that jays, crows, and other birds are so numerous that they are very destructive. It seems to be no one’s duty to keep the number of rooks within reason, and farmers are complaining in this as in so many other counties of their depredations.

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