Flying Rats

I think I’ve told this story before, but anyway…

When I was at The Englishman’s cottage in Cornwall, I had the rare pleasure of hanging out with the Sorensons (Mrs. Sor is “The Catholic” in Comments) for a couple days.  I walked down to the kitchen one morning to find Mrs. Sor sitting alone drinking tea.

“Where’s Himself?” I asked.
“Down by the harbor, feeding Tesco plastic bags to the seagulls.”

He hates seagulls, and so do I.

When I read this sorry tale, I just shook my head.

Monique Sveinsson, 46, from Cambridgeshire, was on a mini-break with her friend Emma Wilshaw when she was attacked by the hungry seagulls at Brighton beach on August 3.
The mother-of-two, who runs her own planner and diary company, described how the aggressive birds circled above her before launching themselves at her food and flying away with the chips.

There is a way to deal with these airborne rodents, and anyone who is going to the seaside (or anywhere seagulls are in abundance, e.g. the Great Lakes) should avail themselves of this advice.

  • Go to your local Goodwill or thrift store, and buy an old tennis- or handball racquet, the older and more battered (therefore cheaper) the better.  (Tennis is better, as it has a longer handle.)

  • Leave it in the trunk of your car.
  • Then, when going to any place where there are seagulls, take it with you.
  • When the gulls start to pester you, swat them like flies.

I had to live in San Francisco for a couple weeks on a client assignment, and my walk to the office from the hotel took me through a couple parks.  The fucking crows and seagulls didn’t just annoy me, they attacked me, pecking at my head.

So on the way back from the client I stopped at a junk store and bought a racquet.  Then when I  went to the park the next day, the little bastards attacked me again.  Miraculously, however, they stopped attacking me after I’d popped three of them out of the sky. (It’s just a little more strenuous than playing badminton.)

Some stupid Karen took offense and called the cops on me.  When the cop asked me what I’d been doing and I told him, he stifled a laugh and said, “I’m going to have to confiscate that weapon.”  Then he winked at me and said, “I’ve been wanting to do what you did for ten years.  Enjoy your stay.”  And he walked off, swinging the racquet like a billyclub.  I think he was daring the birds to attack him.

As with all my advice given on these pages, there’s a “you’re on your own if you follow it” warning.

But I have to tell you, it’s almost as much fun as shooting them with a shotgun.


  1. Back in 1983 (I recall the incident but didn’t recall just when it happened, had to look it up) then-Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield threw a ball during his warm-ups that struck and killed a seagull in-flight (it happened in Toronto), he was arrested after the game and charged with cruelty to animals. So don’t do this in Toronto.

    Having grown up in Staten Island, NYC (then home to the world’s largest landfill), I also hate seagulls. I REALLY hate it when I see people intentionally FEEDING them at the beach, I wouldn’t know who to take the racquet to, the bird of the snot-nosed kid holding up french fries for them to take.

        1. I’ll wager if it happened in Seattle in the here & now the outrageously outrageous outrage would be epic.

      1. Randy Johnson took out a pigeon with a fast ball during a game. He was lauded for his service to the community.

      2. SBB – Suicide By Baseball –
        That poor bird had had a terrible life and just couldn’t take it any longer.

    1. “I wouldn’t know who to take the racquet to, the bird of the snot-nosed kid holding up french fries for them to take.”

      Embrace the power of “and”

    2. Winfield hit a seagull during warm ups. It was the same year George Brett blew a gasket over the pine tar on the bat call thanks to Billy Martin. They were selling T shirts with Brett and Winfield that said “Tar and Feathers”.

  2. I deckhanded on fishing boats as a teenager. We’d occasionally go fishing for gulls – tie some herring to the end of a line, and then play the flying “fish” once it had been swallowed. The Coast Guard played the role of Karen.

    Apropos of nothing except that it’s a fond memory: one summer Burt Reynolds had his yacht moored to a private dock nearby, which all us deckhands carefully inspected with binoculars. To evaluate the vessel’s seaworthiness. That Loni Anderson may have been sunning herself on the deck in her bikini was incidental.

    1. When I was young our family took the ferry from the UK to Le Havre. Several teen aged guys had brought lengths of fishing line, about 6 feet long with a baited and weighted hook at each end. The would whirl them through the clouds of seagulls following the ferry.

      Two birds would grab opposite ends of the line as they flew past, and whether they got hooked or not I don’t know, but they would first have a huge airborne fight, then quickly fall into the ocean and continue fighting over the thing in the water until the ferry pulled away.

  3. Feed the seagulls Alka-Seltzer. They can’t expel the gas and the results are…well, not quite Beirut, but highly satisfying nonetheless.

    1. We tried that during my deckhanding days. Were never lucky enough to observe the desired results.

  4. My seagull story… NTINS*

    It was late 73, I was in the USN submarine force stationed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600). We were moored port side of pier golf at the Charleston Naval Shipyard . It was a Sunday and I had the topside quarterdeck watch. A friend of mine, another sailor, was fishing off of the turtle-back at the stern of the boat. He was doing pretty good too and had already caught a few striped bass which were somewhat prolific in the Cooper River at that time. (Why anyone would want to eat a fish out of that river at that time, well, sailors. But I digress.)

    He cast and a seagull grabbed his bait in mid air and flew off, or tried to anyway. My friend was pissed so he yanked the line, setting the hook, and started reeling him in. The bird panicked and tried to fly off in several directions yanking that line every which way. My friend just kept reeling him in getting closer and closer. The bird finally had had enough and went over to the attack.

    You know, seagulls are a BIG bird – not much smaller than a goose. That bird attacked my friend and pecked him and beat him about the head and shoulders. I should have come to his assistance, but I was too busy keeping myself from falling over the side I was laughing so hard.

    The line finally broke and the gull took off for parts unknown. It probably didn’t survive with that hook stuck in its beak. My friend had cuts and abrasions and bruises on his head and neck. It was a long time before he lived that one down.

    *Now This Is No Shit – which should always proceed a good sea story.

  5. One day during my college years the ladies who usually lunched with us came to the dining hall with a good story from their dorm’s excitement the previous night.

    A bat was flying along a second floor hallway looking for a way out of the building and away from all the panicked screams of the residents. One of the gals, an athletic physical education major, solved their problem with one swing of her tennis racket. The bat murderer, who was a cutie and somewhat admired for that alone, immediately went up another notch in the opinion of all us guys.

  6. SBB – Suicide By Baseball –
    That poor bird had had a terrible life and just couldn’t take it any longer.

  7. Then, of course, there’s the other kind of flying rat – the pigeon. Which brings us to the great Tom Lehrer song “poisoning Pigeons in the Park”:

    Personally, I’ve always thought that sand blasting pigeons (or seagulls) would be a worthwhile alternative. You’d make a mess and clean it up at the same time!

  8. Let’s not forget the Canada goose…. which is under Federal protection as a migratory bird, knows it, and makes it a point to block traffic, chase people, and leave monster piles of green goose poop everywhere.

    Ran into them on both coasts (Woodbridge VA and Portland OR), made no difference.

    1. Maybe .gov should remove that “migratory” description from the shit spewing grey geese. Problem is they are no longer migratory around this part of Virginia – two come by, they stay year round and make goslings, they in turn make grand goslings, next thing you know, there are 50-100 wandering in groups year round in any place that has grass – office parks, shopping centers, schools, parks, decent sized private lawns, and Lord help someone who has a pond.
      We call them grass greasers. They’ve been a genuine nuisance, traffic and health hazard for years here.

      1. And at least in the office parks, shopping centers, etc., they also get fed by idjits…….

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