Though it’s been twelve years since an elderly man saved the life of a seagull, the grateful animal has never forgotten what he did for him.
John Sumner and his bird friend Chirpy have been the best of friends ever since they met on a chilly day on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon twelve years ago. John was out for a walk when he found Chirpy with a broken leg, and he decided to take in the seagull and nurse him back to health.
“I saw him screaming and shouting above my head in agony and I did not know what to do,” recalled John, 80. “The next day he came around me again and tried to land, but was screaming in pain. I did not think he would live, his leg was completely broken.”
John helped heel Chirpy by feeding him dog biscuits that he had bought for his canine Jack. Before long, Chirpy’s leg healed, and while it was still a big crooked, the seagull was pretty much back to his normal self!
All these years later, John and Chirpy still have a special friendship.
“He comes right up to me, he gets so close. He won’t go to anybody else but me, so he has got some sort of relationship with me,” said John. “In March, he will go off and do his natural thing and then in September, he is back with me as normal after they have done their nesting.”
Chirpy, who is around 20 years-old, will not approach any other human on the beach besides John.
“There’s not that many black-headed gulls on Instow Beach. If there was more than 20, I’d be surprised,” he said. “He encourages the rest to come over, but he is the only one that comes close to me and he will just stay there and hover.”
“People are aghast when I tell them, they can’t believe a seagull would come back like that,” John continued. “It makes you wonder what kind of world we actually are in – do they know more than we think they know?”
What a beautiful little friendship. We hope that John and Chirpy continue to enjoy their friendship for many years to come!