Hawk has gulls in a flap

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Following attacks by gulls and claims the town is being overrun, a falconer has been brought in to the Blue Toon to help deal with the problem.

Locals in Peterhead say they can’t savour their sandwiches or feast on fast food in the street without hungry seabirds trying to nick their nibbles.

Handler Stuart Riley with Harris Hawk, Storm

Handler Stuart Riley with Harris Hawk, Storm

Aberdeenshire Council has now called on NBC Bird and Pest Solutions to help deter the birds following claims the problem is worse this year than the town has ever seen.

The birds are often seen to swoop down in surprise attacks to get their beaks on people’s snacks.

Handler Ian Davidson and his trusty hawk Storm began a series of patrols in Peterhead on Friday, July 7, and will be returning throughout August.

He will be flying Storm around Drummers’ Corner, Broad Street and Queen Street to deflect the gulls’ attention from people in the street onto the predator in the sky.

Councillor Anne Allan gets up close to Storm

Councillor Anne Allan gets up close to Storm

The hawk will not harm the gulls but its presence will disturb them, a technique used in places such as the Wimbledon Championships, Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie Stadium and local schools and council offices.

This year has been a very successful breeding season for Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, which are increasingly nesting around Peterhead.

Recent public consultation on the regeneration of Peterhead town centre identified the nuisance caused by gulls to be a key concern for residents.

Aberdeenshire Council is now actively studying options to reduce bird numbers, including nest and egg removal and gull proofing methods for buildings.

Storm was let loose to fly around Peterhead town centre in a bid to scare off the scurries

Storm was let loose to fly around Peterhead town centre in a bid to scare off the scurries

Peterhead Town Centre Project Officer, Heather Barclay, a former countryside ranger, said: “The nesting season typically begins in April, and the current issues in Peterhead are caused by young birds hatched this year competing for food with adult birds.

“Gulls can be very aggressive at this time, not only with each other but also towards people.

“In the next few weeks, the problem will reduce as the young birds naturally disperse out to sea and further along the coast.

“In the meantime, it’s hoped the ‘fly and scare’ measures will reduce the risk of attacks on people. Anyone in the habit of feeding them intentionally can also help by stopping, as it’s simply leading them into a life of crime, associating people with a source of food.”

The visits by the Harris Hawk are being funded through the Peterhead Town Centre Action Plan.

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.

However, to protect public health and safety, the Scottish Government can issues licences to control certain species.

Aberdeenshire Council works with local communities, local businesses and building owners and occupiers offering advice and publicising the services of its preferred contractor for seagull control services – Pro-Check Environmental Services.

If the services of Pro-Check are required, they can be contacted directly to arrange an appointment and discuss payment terms on 0844 800 6484.

If areas are particularly affected by seagull droppings, steps can be taken to clean up public pavements.

To notify Aberdeenshire Council of a specific area please contact Wasteline on 0845 600 3900 or email waste@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.