Miller Bourne Architects on behalf of Hastings Central Library (East Sussex County Council), spoke with NBC regarding a humane way to manage a large herring gull presence at a site where works were due be completed through the nesting season (March – September). They were concerned regarding the gulls dive bombing the contractors which were working on 5 flights of scaffolding on Hastings Central Library as well as the possible interruption that nesting gulls would cause to the project if allowed to nest.
Due to the coastal location of the project and the very narrow streets a solution needed to be found that would deter gulls from nesting on the library building where contractors were working and the adjacent buildings.
Gulls tend to be aggressive during the breeding season. This behaviour occurs as they are protecting their nest or young and once chicks have hatched it is not possible to tackle the issue until the breeding season is over. Falconry was suggested as a safe, humane and effective way to deter the gulls, breaking their behavioural pattern without harming them physically.
NBC implemented a three part falconry program in this instance.
Starting with an intensive falconry programme a bird of prey was flown at varying times from Monday to Friday. By varying the times of flights this ensured that birds returning to the site at different times are reminded of its presence more consistently. Followed by a second phase of intensive treatment for a further 8 week maintenance programme.
The final approach was a block of ongoing visits over a period of forty weeks to ensure that we maintain the fear that is required to be instilled into the gulls which will lead to displacing them, again alternating the times of the week to provide what appears to be a more consistent presence to the gulls.
Additionally East Sussex County Council installed bird netting to prevent both the pigeons and gulls from nesting on the building and causing further damage.
An effective programme often uses a combination of methods, bird proofing and falconry typically work well together for a longer term solution. However we will always complete a bird survey before making gull mitigation recommendations.