Falconer called in to tackle seagulls

A seagull in flight.
A seagull in flight.

Following attacks by seagulls and claims that a Buchan town is being over-run, a falconer has been brought in to deal with seagulls.

Aberdeenshire Council has called on NBC Bird and Pest Solutions to help deter the birds following claims the problem is worse this year than the town has ever seen.

The birds are often seen to swoop down in surprise attacks to get their beaks on people’s snacks.

Handler Ian Davidson and his trusty hawk Storm will begin a series of patrols in Peterhead throughout August.

He will be flying Storm around Drummers’ Corner, Broad Street and Queen Street to deflect the gulls’ attention from people in the street onto the predator in the sky.

The hawk will not harm the gulls but its presence will disturb them, a technique used in places such as the Wimbledon Championships, Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie Stadium and local schools and council offices.

This year has been a very successful breeding season for Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, which are increasingly nesting around Peterhead.

Recent public consultation on the regeneration of Peterhead town centre identified the nuisance caused by gulls to be a key concern for residents.

Aberdeenshire Council is now actively studying options to reduce bird numbers, including nest and egg removal and gull proofing methods for buildings.

Peterhead Town Centre Project Officer, Heather Barclay, a former countryside ranger, said: “The nesting season typically begins in April, and the current issues in Peterhead are caused by young birds hatched this year competing for food with adult birds.

“Gulls can be very aggressive at this time, not only with each other but also towards people.

“In the next few weeks, the problem will reduce as the young birds naturally disperse out to sea and further along the coast.

“In the meantime, it’s hoped the ‘fly and scare’ measures will reduce the risk of attacks on people. Anyone in the habit of feeding them intentionally can also help by stopping, as it’s simply leading them into a life of crime, associating people with a source of food.”

The visits by the Harris Hawk are being funded through the Peterhead Town Centre Action Plan.