Over the past few days, much of Britain has experienced its first major storm of the 2016-17 winter season. Its name was Angus – he came, shed copious bucket-loads of rain on us, battered us with hail bullets, and blew away the last of the autumn leaves.
For some species of gulls though, Angus has brought bounty, in the form of a thin layer of surface water on areas of saturated meadows and lawns. Gulls are smart enough to take advantage of this. When it rains, earthworms head to the soil surface to avoid being flooded out, so gulls quickly make a meal of them. But some gulls go one step further: through repeatedly paddling on the wet grass, they cause vibrations which, in turn, cause the worms to think it’s raining even when it’s not so, once again, the worms head to the surface. Result? More gull snacks! It’s fascinating behaviour to watch.
As I only have a free WordPress blog, I can’t upload my video of the gulls performing their rain dance but you can see it here.