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Hawk used to scare seagulls in Beccles

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:11 01 August 2010

THE loud cries of gulls circling the skies of Beccles could become a thing of the past for frustrated residents, if community efforts to rid the town centre of the birds succeed.

THE loud cries of gulls circling the skies of Beccles could become a thing of the past for frustrated residents, if community efforts to rid the town centre of the birds succeed.

Neighbours of a derelict factory site, now a nesting site for a colony of gulls, pressed for action in the summer after likening their daily lives to a scene out of the Hitchcock horror film, The Birds.

The Journal reported how life for people living in Gosford Road and Fair Close was being made unbearable by the noise and mess caused by the colony that was growing year-by-year.

Now the neighbours and the town council have teamed up to take a two-pronged approach towards ridding the site of the birds.

Resident Phillip Page said that in the next couple of weeks a group of volunteers would be “stringing-up” the site ahead of the nesting season in spring.

He said neighbours would string twine at close intervals between stakes set around the perimeter of the site and a bicycle wheel in the centre to create a spider's web effect that should prevent the gulls from nesting.

“If you cut it down so the string is about 18 inches apart, their wing span being 2-3ft, they won't be able to get through it,” he said. “It's to stop them landing.”

He added: “If the colony moves to somewhere like a field or somewhere in the countryside nobody's got a problem with that.”

Mr Page said that landowner Anglia Co-op had given permission for the work and had agreed to pay for the materials and added that Natural England approved of the humane approach.

In addition, Beccles Town Council has contracted a specialist firm to bring in a predatory bird to make flights over the site to scare off the gulls.

Town hall clerk Bernie Broom said the work with the Harris Hawk had just started, at the cost of £1,064 per quarter.

“We are having fortnightly flights at the moment. In February they will probably be weekly flights,” she said. “The last thing that we want to do is to go down the route of killing the gulls. We don't want any damage to the birds whatsoever but what we do want is to frighten them off.” She added: “It's prevention. We are trying to prevent them from nesting so they can't breed.”

Mrs Broom said if it worked it would improve the quality of life for the neighbours, adding: “It's the fact that it's so residential - there are houses all the way round it and it was such a nightmare for them.”

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