GULLS – IT’S OUR FAULT

Ex­pert says peo­ple to blame for ris­ing num­bers in city

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - WILL HAY­WARD Re­porter will.hay­ward@waleson­line.co.uk

“WE in­vited them found their niche.”

Th­ese are the damn­ing words of one of the UK’s lead­ing or­nithol­o­gists on Cardiff’s run­away seag­ull prob­lem.

Many peo­ple in the city take it for granted their bin bags will be torn open once a week or that flocks of gulls will hang around school play­grounds wait­ing for the daily feast as chil­dren go back into school af­ter break.

Ac­cord­ing to gull ex­pert Peter Rock, Cardiff has the largest pop­u­la­tion in the Sev­ern Es­tu­ary, with the lat­est data putting the count at 3,150 breed­ing pairs.

Th­ese fig­ures comes from sci­en­tific sur­veys but peo­ple in the city are also see­ing the in­crease in their day to day lives.

Mike More­land lives in Whitchurch, close to the Ga­balfa fly­over.

He said: “I have seen a mas­sive in­crease in the pop­u­la­tion over the last 10 years. Close to where I live, they nest on the roofs of the stu­dent res­i­dents build­ing. The con­stant noise is ter­ri­ble, es­pe­cially dur­ing nest­ing sea­son, it starts at about 3am and con­tin­ues un­til mid­night.

“Also, when the chicks have hatched they are very ag­gres­sive to­wards peo­ple and pets. I have seen a mas­sive de­crease of smaller birds to a point where I never see any in the gar­den now. I am very con­cerned about the health im­pli­ca­tions as they defe­cate ev­ery­where.”

The vast ma­jor­ity of seag­ull gulls in the in and they have Welsh cap­i­tal are one of two species – her­ring gulls (pink legs) and lesser black-back gulls (yel­low legs).

They first started get­ting a foothold in Cardiff al­most 40 years ago and made their mark straight away.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Rock, this ex­plo­sion in the pop­u­la­tion is un­sur­pris­ing.

“Town of­fers a safe place,” he said. “There are few preda­tors. It is 4-6°C warmer in the town than the coun­try­side, which al­lows breed­ing ear­lier in the year. We have given them the in­vi­ta­tion to breed in the town.”

It’s not just that the gulls are able to breed ear­lier in the town – they can also feed at night. Ru­ral gulls will not fly in the dark but re­search sug­gests ur­ban gulls are fly­ing 35% of the time at night com­pared to 65% in the day. That abil­ity to feed through the night is caus­ing real is­sues on The Hayes in the city cen­tre.

Huw Williams, 57, has an apart­ment there. He claims that dur­ing the sum­mer the at­trac­tive open space is ru­ined at about 4am when the gulls tear apart the bags left out by restau­rants.

“I have been here for four or five years,” he said. “It has been hor­rific! I have re­lent­lessly spo­ken to Cardiff coun­cil about it. Why can’t they build a shel­ter for the bags? The can make it as pretty as they want.

“We had friends over from South Africa and they said, ‘What a lovely city to­tally blighted by rub­bish and seagulls.’” So what can be done about them? Chris Cor­bett is a pest con­trol ex­pert who runs Aderyn pest con­trol.

He said: “Net­ting to ex­clude the birds from a spe­cific area is re­garded as be­ing the most ef­fec­tive. How­ever, if it is the ridges or para­pets of a build­ing that is the is­sue then per­haps a sprung­wire sys­tem would be bet­ter.

“Chim­ney stacks and pots can best be pro­tected by us­ing spikes, wire mesh cages or a com­bi­na­tion. Bioa­cous­tics (the birds’ nat­u­ral alarm call played through a speaker sys­tem) work in low pres­sure ar­eas where the re­quire­ment is to dis­rupt the birds’ be­hav­iour but it has a mea­sured suc­cess when the birds are nest­ing.”

A spokesman for Cardiff coun­cil said: “All seagulls are pro­tected species in the UK through the Wildlife and Coun­try­side Act 1981 and there isn’t any statu­tory duty on the coun­cil to man­age their pop­u­la­tion.

“If home own­ers would like to take mea­sures to stop nest­ing gulls on the roof of their house, then they are able to take ac­tion them­selves or hire a pest con­trol com­pany to put mea­sures in place. This usu­ally in­volves putting spikes or a net over the chim­ney pots which can be put in place out­side the breed­ing sea­son be­tween Septem­ber and March.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.