Belfast Telegraph

When seagulls attack - Belfast shoppers targeted by gulls

A menace from above is wreaking havoc in Belfast city centre, writes Claire Williamson

A flock of seagulls have taken up residence on the top floor of high, flat roofs in the city's car parks and buildings.

Bird lovers believe that customers moving in the car park below are causing the gulls to become agitated.

This has led to some unsuspecting passers-by being targeted by dive-bombing birds.

And now it has emerged that warning signs have been put in place to ensure that the birds are not disturbed.

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) say that it is preferable to leave nesting birds undisturbed. However, this is easier said than done considering the amount of movement in a busy city car park.

Protected under the Wildlife Order 1985, it is illegal to disturb any nesting bird, and the city's flat rooftops are the perfect dwelling spot for them to incubate their eggs and raise their young.

Hi Park car park has put a notice in place which states: 'Please beware of seagulls! Nesting with young.'

Urban areas tend to attract the birds as there is easy access to rubbish with lots of discarded food in bins, and there are also people who willingly feed the gulls.

This behaviour is common in the summer months and will continue until the young gulls leave their nests.

The RSPB said that the birds were merely protecting their young. The chicks will be flying the nest soon and as a result the parents should be less agitated by human activity.

"Until then, we would urge people to be aware of why gulls may appear to be acting aggressively and refrain from antagonising them at this very important time of year,'' explained Judith Carville of the RSPB.

FACTFILE

* Gulls are semi-colonial nesters and in some cases form colonies of thousands of birds.

* Parents look after chicks for five to six weeks until they fly the nest.

* The Kittiwake is the most numerous species of UK gull.

* Some gulls can live to over the age of 20.

* The population of gulls are on a steady decline.

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