Mayday in Hastings. This is Jack in the Green weekend, when ancient rituals are enacted once more: Jack is taken from his hiding place in the Fishermen's Museum, and, accompanied by bogies and sweeps, as well as giants and green-painted entities of all shapes, escorted through the Old Town and up to Hastings Castle, where he is ritually slaughtered, thus ushering in spring. Alternatively, it's yet another excuse to dress up and drink a great deal....

Meanwhile, high on the rooftops, the mating ritual of the herring gull continues this spring. Readers will recall that two weeks ago I reported climbing through our attic to the roof to check on the state of the roof valley, where a pair of gulls have traditionally nested. I cleared all the debris that had accumulated there, aiming to avoid a repetition of the rude awakening I experienced over a year ago, when rainwater had backed up through the eaves and made its way onto my sleeping head in the bedroom below.

While there has been some small re-accumulation in the past fortnight, there is no sign of the nesting pair of previous years, nor of any serious nest-building. Either they are not returning this year or they are late. However, atop the main chimney of the house I can see that the other pair of gulls are well on their way.


One of the pair (probably the female) is already on the nest, between the left-hand and middle chimney pot. She has probably laid two or three eggs, which will hatch later this month. Her partner, meanwhile, lords it above, gazing out over the valley of the Old Town.

There will be further reports throughout the season, until the chicks fledge at the end of the summer.