PASSING Clackmannan County Cricket Club by the edge of Alloa, I noticed a herring gull on the playing field engaged in some rather bizarre behaviour, for it was rapidly stamping its feet up and down, almost as if running on the spot.

It looked a bit like a gull version of Riverdance, but instead this is a rather clever feeding tactic because the rhythmic patting of the feet mimics the vibration of raindrops, thus causing earthworms to come to the surface only to be then snapped up by the hungry bird.

Such behaviour characterises the very soul of the herring gull, which is hallmarked by opportunism and an ability to be at home in a variety of environments.

It is a bird equally content following a trawler at sea, as it is turning over the surface of an inland rubbish tip or scavenging the contents of discarded fast food containers on the streets of Alloa on a Saturday night.

The herring gull is a bit of a glutton, knowing that if it doesn’t bolt its food down quickly, then there is every chance it will be the victim of piracy from another bird.

Down by the River Devon, I’ve noticed in recent weeks that there have been black-headed gulls about too. I’m not sure what is attracting them to the river, but it could be due to insect hatches taking place on our milder winter days.

They are rather dainty gulls, which in summer have deep chocolate-brown heads that look black from a distance, although at this time of year they are pale-faced.

In spring, look out for black-headed gulls following a tractor’s plough where they’ll swoop down in its wake to snap-up worms and other small invertebrates.