HAWKS are to be flown around Worcester five days a week for the next two months, in a bid to deter gulls from settling in the city.
The birds will fly in selected areas for up to eight hours a day – the biggest exercise of its type to have been undertaken in the city.
Hawk flying was trialled in Britannia Square and other parts of central Worcester in spring 2020. There have been no reports of additional gulls nesting in Britannia Square since this exercise, with hawks being flown for up to two hours a day during the early nesting season. Residents in the nearby Tything and surrounding area also reported a reduction in gull activity, aggression and noise.
The current programme, which will be undertaken by an experienced hawk flyer, will target a range of city centre areas including The Tything; Foregate Street; High Street and Copenhagen Street – as well as outlying areas including Lower Wick and Blackpole.
“Residents frequently tell us that gulls are a nuisance and in extreme cases, can regularly disturb sleep and affect their health,” said Coun Marc Bayliss.
“We are working hard to address this issue. We’re doubling our budget over the next 12 months to combat the effects of gulls and are using a variety of techniques, including hawk flying, to deter them.
“However, the gulls most common to our area are protected species and there are stringent rules which impact on the techniques we can deploy.”
Hawk flying is one of a number of measures the city council is taking to reduce the presence of gulls in Worcester. Between May and July, the peak nesting season for gulls, 137 gulls’ nests and 223 eggs were removed this year.
This action followed successful applications by Worcester City Council to Natural England for licenses to undertake the work. Lesser black-backed gull and Herring gulls, the two most common species present in Worcester, are protected by law.
The city council works closely with residential and business property owners, who are prepared to use a variety of tactics to combat gulls. This year the owners of a private retirement complex in Barbourne painted its flat roof bright red. This successfully deterred two pairs of resident gulls from nesting on the same spot. The city council will explore similar techniques on other buildings, where appropriate, in 2022.
This year the city council also installed 10 galvanised steel mesh exclusion cages over potential nesting sites at residential properties in Barbourne and Lower Wick.