The “world’s friendliest” seagull has become a star attraction in a seaside town – as she loves following people around and sitting on their heads.
Deborah Littleton-Palmer, 50, was on a stroll at the beach with her son James, nine, and her three dogs when the bird suddenly flew towards them.
She was initially shocked but quickly realised the sociable seagull just wanted to have some company – and proceeded to sit on each of their heads.
The seagull, fondly named Star, was hand-reared by an animal shelter owner after she fell from a roof in March when she was just a chick.
But the eight-month-old seagull is now in full health and enjoying her afternoons at Mawbray beach where she’s become a bit of a star attraction.
Deborah said it was an experience she will “never forget” and that it was a “once in a lifetime experience”.
Deborah, from Maryport, in Cumbria, said: “It was a wonderful and fantastic experience.
“I live near the beach and will always go down for walks with my son and my three dogs.
“But in all my years I’ve never experienced anything quite like this.
“We were just having a walk when we were shocked to see this seagull fly right up and it sat on my son’s head.
“And then it flew off and sat on my head, and then my friend’s and her kids’.
“It was like it was playing and making sure we all got some attention – and maybe it got some attention too.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
Deborah was enjoying a walk on Sep 25 at Mawbray beach just a few miles from her home, when the comical scenes unfolded.
She said it took them by surprise as it was unusual – but she hopes she will meet Star again.
The stay-at-home mum said: “It was such a laugh and a moment my kids will never forget.
“It felt a bit surreal because you don’t expect that from seagulls.
“But this must have been the world’s friendliest seagull.
“It was just so unusual, and it followed us around and when we stopped it would just lay next to us waiting for our next move.
“And we didn’t have any food or anything – so it wasn’t like it was looking to get a snack, it genuinely seemed like it wanted our company.
“It was just really lovely and I hope we get to meet again. But it felt like a once in a lifetime experience.”
She added that seagulls get “bad press” and hoped her experience would “right that wrong”.
The mum-of-one said: “Most people will tell you about their horrendous experiences with seagulls – not us.
“Seagulls get so much bad press so I’m here to right that wrong.”
Star was hand-reared by Melanie James, who has been running the AniMel Haven in Cumbria for six years.
During lockdown she has tended to hundreds of animals who were hurt or orphaned, including many seagull chicks like Star.
The 44-year-old said: “I’ve always said that all animals are lovely – including seagulls who get a terrible reputation in the public as being this menacing creature.
“My shelter gets hundreds of animals and many of them are little seagull chicks and I’ll hand-rear them until they are ready to fly on their own.
“I think everyone is so shocked when I tell them they’re actually quite friendly.
“I got Star after she fell from a roof and she was just a ball of fluff.
“It makes me so happy when people send in pictures of her because she’s been playful with their kids because that’s how animals are.
“But the truth is people have turned them into pests, and we litter so much and have fished so much out of the sea that they need to come inland to feed.
“Star is so smart and friendly, and she loves human attention.
“No one expects to be friends with a seagull – but she’s just an animal like any other.”