It seems we have a little problem in Tromsø. In Summer, residents have to play dodgems with the local seagulls. To me seagulls are like pigeons – just add water and they become the flying rats of the sea. However, in Norway they have the biggest seagulls I’ve every seen – the Great Black-Backed Gull (twice as big as your normal Herring Gull). These gulls are the size of dogs! Normally the further north you go the smaller everything gets – in Gjesvær the trees are so small there aren’t any…lol. There must be something in the Arctic water to breed such big flying things.
At the Tromsø University Museum there is a display to honour these rugged birds. Herring Gulls and Great Black-Backed Gulls are normally ‘resident’ birds but in Norway they actually fly south for the Winter. They always come back though – with a vengeance. The museum has an ongoing survey asking if these native seagulls should be removed from the city. The (ongoing) results are interesting. All the residents of Tromsø want the birds to go, while all the tourists want the birds to stay. The funny thing is that most of the people who go to the museum are tourists – so if Tromsø wants it their way they have to get some culture into them. (Who knows – maybe if they see the display it will sway the local vote to the other side?)
I’ve always been curious as to why Norway never puts the spikes on top of their statue heads to stop birds from landing and pooping. I must admit though, the poop does make the statues look prettier. However, I don’t think it has the same effect on me.
I thought that the opinion of seagulls amongst Norwegians, especially in the North, would be a lot higher – like the moose or reindeer. Seagull eggs are a local delicacy in Tromsø. Put together with a Mack beer from the local brewery and you have an eatable icon. (See the post Seagull Eggs and Beer)
Even though these birds can be a little scary, I found that if you just change your mind about them then they aren’t a bother at all. In fact, there is beauty in even the unlikeliest of creatures. Last Autumn my opinion changed. We were at Prestvannet on a plan to feed the ducks. While the ducks just did their own thing pecking in the reeds, the seagulls flocked to us in excitement. They watched our every move, hoping that we would notice them too – begging us to show a little bread-love. Some might say they were getting pushy, but it seemed they knew that if they ‘give a little’ they would ‘get a little’.
After a little persuasion, the seagulls were literally eating out of our hands. (The pics below are close-ups from the post Cheeky Seagulls.) And the best thing, we had so much fun (Lilu was squealing) without getting any poop on us!
(Pssst! If you are ever in Tromsø – press the ‘green’ button!)