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Falcon takes a pop at the pigeons

PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:38 01 August 2010

A BIRD of prey assigned the task of frightening off nuisance gulls in Beccles was rather too hot and bothered to do much flying on Tuesday morning.

But its menacing demeanour seemed to be doing the trick as there were few gulls to be seen.

A BIRD of prey assigned the task of frightening off nuisance gulls in Beccles was rather too hot and bothered to do much flying on Tuesday morning.

But its menacing demeanour seemed to be doing the trick as there were few gulls to be seen.

Anglia Co-op, which owns the derelict land attracting the gulls, has brought in a new bigger bird of prey to replace the Harris Hawk initially flown on behalf of the town council.

The bird is in fact a Peregrine-Lanner Falcon, not an Osprey as previously suggested, and has been out flying for a couple of weeks now.

The Co-op has contracted The English School of Falconry, based at Old Warden Park near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, to fly the bird on a regular basis.

Chris Whitehead, the falconer who was working on the site on Tuesday said that the flights had been successful so far, even if the bird didn't feel like flapping its wings much in the warm weather.

“She's playing up accordingly,” said Mr Whitehead. “She's misbehaving at the moment, she's hot and bothered and she doesn't like it. But where are the gulls? They were here, they've seen her, and they've all flown off.”

Mr Whitehead explained that the falcon is used as a deterrent rather than a bird flown to attack the gulls. He said that the falconers had been coming at different times each day, so that the gulls could not just leave and then come back when they know the falcon will not be there. Gradually they would not want to come back at all.

“They look at her as the hunter and they don't want to be here when she's about,” he said. “If we come at off times they don't know when she is coming. They do have a body clock and if we come at 10 o'clock every morning they won't be here.”

Despite the falcon's inactivity on Tuesday morning, Mr Whitehead said that it had already flown above the gulls once in the day which had been enough to scare them off. “They recognise the shape of a predator above them,” he said.

Earlier this year Beccles Town Council hired a Harris Hawk to be flown regularly in an effort to scare away the colony of noisy gulls, which have been tormenting the residents of Fair Close and Gosford Road. However, Anglia Co-op has now stepped in to take responsibility.

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