A Herring Gull's Story...

Here’s a question: is life something just to be got through, or something to be explored?

In Richard Bach’s story Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Jonathan is always being told that seagulls only fly so that they can eat. That doesn’t suit the young gull – he loves flying for its own sake, wants to know what a seagull can really do, and so sets out on a voyage of discovery. I sometimes refer to that story at christenings, the point being that baptism is also intended to mark the beginning of a voyage of discovery that starts in this world and ends in the next.

I was reminded of this recently when my son mentioned finding a dead herring gull in the gutter on Dover Hill. Something had hit it; it had a ring on each leg. Following discussion, we set out with bin sack and gardening gloves, retrieved the body and tapped the number on the ring into the computer. Suddenly, Our Gull had a story to tell.

We learned that GR94363, as Our Gull was known, had been trapped and ringed as a two-year-old in January 2015 at a tip at Pitsea, Essex. At some point Our Gull flew the Thames Estuary, and then the English Channel. He or she was spotted near Boulogne in August 2017, inland at Curgies, near Valenciennes and the Belgian border in December 2017, and finally back on the French coast near Le Touquet in August last year.

Jesus once said that though five sparrows are sold for two pennies not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Our Gull now rests from his or her journeys in this world in a corner of the vicarage garden; remembered both in this world, and in the next.