"Unlike the true birds of the ocean, whether the auks or the fulmars, herring gulls know that people spell danger."
Umm,... not the ones that dwell in the city. They have no fear. Not only that, but they are veritable thugs.
Last year, I had a stand-off with one who was occupying the last parking space on my road and decided to mouth-off at me as I edged the car slowly into the space. Then the gull flew on the roof of my car and stamped its feet. It took me a moment to decide that being trapped in the car by a seagull was silly.
Also, they do sweep in at people eating food in public.
And of course, there is this famous thug ... (click the link for the youtube video).
So, Adam Nicolson may need to further his research. ;)
Btw, this is "Steven" the menace of my neighbourhood. Here he is caught in the act of tapping at people's windows demanding a share of their breakfast in lieu of "protection" or ... possibly trying to actually break in.
"[...] all gulls are opportunistic omnivores, looking for food in all kinds of ways, scavenging, stealing and hunting, no species of gull specialising in a particular kind of food. Anything available will do. In the heroic Arctic world of Spitsbergen, the large glaucous gulls, called in Latin Larus hyperboreus, the super-northern gull, pale, ethereal and giant versions of a herring gull, hunt birds for a living. Their favourite is the fat and chunky little auk, the smallest of the Atlantic auks, like a compressed razorbill or a puffin canape. It is a perfect bundle of fat, sitting like a sausage on the water, so that the coming together of little auks and glaucous gull looks inevitably like the meeting of greed and food."
Gulls are bastards.