Gulls Flying Over Friars Cliff

 In Birds, Environment

The garden is a joy on these warm balmy days. It is quiet too, and I look to the skies. However, although many people must see the gulls flying over Friars Cliff, few give them a second thought. Why are so many gulls flying, and relatively silent, for gulls? The secret is beneath the garden, beneath my patio and your patio; ant colonies. At a certain temperature and humidity, usually in July and August, the ant colonies release their hoard of gold, their aviator ants. I see the grounded ones bounding around on the slabs, as if excited by their flying brood. It’s as if they want to fly rather than be trodden beneath a gardener’s foot.

Sprouting wings

The flying ants stream up into the sky and almost certain death. However, so many accumulated over Kent this year that they formed clouds which confused the weather watchers. The gulls are more grounded with their dietary appreciation; flying ants are nourishing food. Watch, and you will see the gulls flick about in the sky as they spot and grab a flying ant. The gull is a jetliner and the ant a mere biplane; it stands no chance. Except, of course, in their sheer numbers. Some of the queens survive, mate with the males and start a new colony on that chequerboard of gardens down below. That, of course, includes beneath your patio.

Gulls flying over Friars Cliff

Finally, this reminds us that a place like Friars Cliff is not just a human playground. It was always a dry, hot place, a heathland created by sands and gravels. We laid gardens over the heath and planted palms and other foreign plants. However, we added water to grow those sappy dahlias and exotics, and the aphids thrived. The ants feed on these aphids. In conclusion, our actions have changed the environment. At least the gulls and the ants in Friars Cliff have benefited from our expansion.

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