Winged assassins: Woman plagued by nesting seagulls

Alison Thomasson gets that sinking feeling whenever she steps out of the door.

Friday, 15th June 2018, 5:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th June 2018, 11:41 am
Alison Thomasson and her dog Henry being plagued by a nesting seagull

The nightmare neighbours could be ready to attack at any moment, screaming angrily at Alison, her son Christopher or even the family’s Jack Russell, Henry.

Henry has already been attacked in the garden twice, while one assailant struck the top of Alison’s head, bringing genuine terror.

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Alison Thomasson and her dog Henry being plagued by a nesting seagull

But their enemy is not of the human kind – it’s a pair of seagulls.

And the sizeable birds, whose nest just happens to be perched on the low lying roof of nextdoor’s bungalow, are making the lives of Alison and Christopher, who has learning difficulties, a misery.

The family, who live at The Strand in Fleetwood, have been living with the dive-bombing menace for the past four weeks - and they are desperate for the local council to help them before one of them is seriously hurt.

Alison, 57, knows the birds are merely doing their parental jobs, trying to protect their chick – but that’s no comfort when they launch their screeching attacks.

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The former teaching assistant said: “I have never had any problems with gulls in my life, and I lived in different places. But these ones are making my son’s and my life a misery - for the last four weeks, every time we take our dog for a walk we are dive bombed and one of them caught the top of my head.

“We are now becoming virtual prisoners in our home due to this, even going to sit in the back garden has become a war zone.

“A lot of people think it is quite funny that seagulls dive-bomb us but when you have a son with severe learning difficulties not able to go out for a walk with his dog due to this it isn’t funny anymore, it is starting to affect our health.”

Alison, now a full time carer, added: “We have learnt that these particular two seagulls nested in the same place last year.

Marjory Dyson was also attacked in her scooter

“We didn’t live in the bungalow then and had we known before we moved in what the summer was going to be like I doubt very much that we would have moved here - that’s how bad it has been.”

Alison wants Wyre Council to somehow safely remove the nest and re-locate it somewhere nearby, not so close to people.

But the authority says that, while it sympathises with the family, the law is stringent in protecting the birds.

A Wyre Council spokesman said: “We empathise with Ms Thomasson but we have no statutory duties or powers to take action.

Samuel Spencer with his pie in Cleveleys

“We have conducted campaigns around education with the aim of reducing access to food by gulls, which can help in controlling gull numbers.

“In this case we would recommend that at the end of this breeding season the nest and nesting material be removed and the affected building be proofed against further nesting.”

Pensioners attacked in town centre

Previous incidents included an attack on ex-coal miner Samuel Spencer, 81, who was attacked by a flock of seagulls in Cleveleys town centre last November.

One gull stole the ex-coal miner’s steak pie, which he had just bought from the town’s Pound Bakery store, and left him with a two-inch gash on the side of his head.

He said at the time: “You see kids eating hot rolls and ice creams. If they got attacked it could affect them for the rest of their life.”

And in March this year, pensioner Marjory Dyson, 82, was in her mobility scooter when she had to fight off a vicious seagull after it swooped down on her head - also in Cleveleys town centre.

After being left with a black eye, she said: “It dived into my face and nearly had my glasses off.

“It had to fight it off with my arm.”

Council considering fines

There have been a number of gull attacks reported on the Fylde coast within the past 12 months.

This even prompted Wyre to consider fining people in the borough £100 for encouraging the birds by feeding them.

In August last year, the council launched a consultation over the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders which would prohibit the feeding of gulls in large parts of the borough.

Cleveleys, Thornton, Fleetwood and Knott End would all be covered by the proposals which were launched in response to an increase in reported attacks on humans.

Under the proposals Wyre Council would ask members of the public to report individuals and hot spots where gulls were being fed. However, almost a year on, the council has not yet moved forward with it.

This week a spokesman said: “The Public Space Protection Order has not been approved by members as we are still considering the findings from the consultation.”

What does the law say?

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird, or interfere with its nest or eggs.

Penalties can be severe.

However, the law provides a general licence system which allows property owners to take action against gulls nesting on buildings.

The licence system can only be used for the purpose of preserving public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease and is specifically for the control of Herring, Great Black Backed and Lesser Black- Backed gulls.

Penalties that can be imposed for criminal offences in respect of a single bird, nest or egg contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 include an unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment or both.