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Resorts under siege by ‘The Club’…of seagulls: Inside war between locals and ‘epidemic’ of birds

It’s 9am in a quiet west country housing estate and on rooftops everywhere the bane of Royal Mail is eying up potential targets.

Known as ‘The Club’, the colony of herring gulls has become so aggressive towards postal workers that some deliveries are being suspended without notice.

Residents say the nesting birds dive-bomb anyone they consider a threat to their young, claiming at least one postman has been spotted donning a safety helmet before venturing into the Poldhu Road and Cardinnis Gardens area of Liskeard, Cornwall.

Another is said to have swapped his red uniform for ‘beige and grey colours’ in the belief that red antagonises the gulls.

There have also been reports of one drawing blood after swooping to peck a postman on the head.

Herring gulls pictured in Port Isaac, Cornwall, dive-bombing for tourists' ice creams and food

Herring gulls pictured in Port Isaac, Cornwall, dive-bombing for tourists’ ice creams and food

A seagull tries to swoop in on an unsuspecting walker's ice cream in Port Isaac, Cornwall

A seagull tries to swoop in on an unsuspecting walker’s ice cream in Port Isaac, Cornwall

The bird pecks at the woman's ice cream as residents describe their town as having a 'seagull epidemic'

The bird pecks at the woman’s ice cream as residents describe their town as having a ‘seagull epidemic’

A seagull manages to take off with a healthy swipe of this person's pie in Cornwall

A seagull manages to take off with a healthy swipe of this person’s pie in Cornwall

There have been reports of seagulls drawing blood after they swoop in for people's food

There have been reports of seagulls drawing blood after they swoop in for people’s food

Known as 'The Club', the colony of herring gulls, pictured here in Liskeard, Cornwall, has become so aggressive towards postal workers that some deliveries are being suspended without notice

Known as ‘The Club’, the colony of herring gulls, pictured here in Liskeard, Cornwall, has become so aggressive towards postal workers that some deliveries are being suspended without notice

Some locals blame their neighbours for encouraging the birds to stay – either by deliberately feeding them or failing to put bags of rubbish into council-supplied wheely bins.

But others believe the gull menace has simply intensified as the size of the colony has grown to over 60 birds.

They claim they face daily disruption from aerial attacks and showers of gull excrement on paths, gardens and cars.

Supermarket worker Sarah Hunkin, 45, said: ‘I’ve lived here 17 years and I’ve never seen it as bad as this.

‘This used to be a nice, tidy estate. Now the mess from the gulls is everywhere.

‘In the breeding season it is really hard to sleep. You hear their feet tapping across your roof and they screech in the middle of the night

‘They nest on roofs and when their young fall to the ground it sets them off. They see anyone approaching as a threat and they fly to the rescue.

‘It’s reached the point where you don’t even want to walk out to your car in case you come under attack.’

Residents say the nesting birds, pictured, dive-bomb anyone they consider a threat to their young, claiming at least one postman has been spotted donning a safety helmet

Residents say the nesting birds, pictured, dive-bomb anyone they consider a threat to their young, claiming at least one postman has been spotted donning a safety helmet

The chaos in happening on Poldhu Road and Cardinnis Gardens area of Liskeard, Cornwall

The chaos in happening on Poldhu Road and Cardinnis Gardens area of Liskeard, Cornwall

Supermarket worker Sarah Hunkin, 45, said: 'I've lived here 17 years and I've never seen it as bad as this'

Supermarket worker Sarah Hunkin, 45, said: ‘I’ve lived here 17 years and I’ve never seen it as bad as this’

Some locals blame their neighbours for encouraging the birds to stay - either by deliberately feeding them or failing to put bags of rubbish into council-supplied wheely bins

Some locals blame their neighbours for encouraging the birds to stay – either by deliberately feeding them or failing to put bags of rubbish into council-supplied wheely bins

The gull menace has simply intensified as the size of the colony has grown to over 60 birds

The gull menace has simply intensified as the size of the colony has grown to over 60 birds

Local gardening contractor Justin Pote said: ‘They fly in low like they’re bombing you. It feels like the council should rename this the Barnes-Wallis estate.

‘Once the babies have hatched everything goes quiet for a few weeks. Then the young start leaving the rooftop nests and fall to the ground.

‘If you happen to be nearby when that happens, watch out. The parents will see you as a threat and attack.’

But Mr Pote, 50, added: ‘This is a people problem, not a gull problem.

‘Everyone has been given wheely bins but some still persist in putting out food waste in plastic bags. The gulls rip those to shreds – it’s easier to go for leftovers than to catch fish and crabs.

‘We had three breeding seasons last year and so that has obviously increased numbers.’

A woman visiting her elderly mother said she had repeatedly asked Cornwall Council to help deter the birds from nesting.

‘The council isn’t interested even though this is affecting people’s daily lives,’ she said.

‘Last week I met one postman who told me he’d swapped his normal uniform for neutral colours – grey and beige – because he’d been told gulls don’t like red.

‘It seems ridiculous that it has come to this.’

Rose Dawson with her Chihuahua which was attacked by seagulls. She found her beloved chihuahua Ceri barking madly at a gull which was 'on her back in the garden'

Rose Dawson with her Chihuahua which was attacked by seagulls. She found her beloved chihuahua Ceri barking madly at a gull which was ‘on her back in the garden’

A woman visiting her elderly mother said she had repeatedly asked Cornwall Council to help deter the birds from nesting

A woman visiting her elderly mother said she had repeatedly asked Cornwall Council to help deter the birds from nesting

Sheila Seccombe, 63, said: 'There's absolutely nothing wrong with having gulls around. 'If you feed them, what do you expect'

Sheila Seccombe, 63, said: ‘There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having gulls around. ‘If you feed them, what do you expect’

Charlie Ball, who has lived on the estate for ten years, said: ‘In the past, one postman was left with blood running down his face after a gull attack.

‘And this year we’ve seen one wearing a mask and helmet on his rounds.

‘Some people bring the problem on themselves. One woman puts out a plate of food for them at 5pm every afternoon.’

Rose Dawson, 78, told how she found her beloved chihuahua Ceri barking madly at a gull which was ‘on her back in the garden’.

She said: ‘ It did upset Ceri. But she soon got over it.

‘The gulls don’t really bother me. I use a brolly to get from the door to my sunshade in the garden. That seems to work.

‘I do wonder if they get to know us locals and decide we’re not a problem. They are marvellous parents. They’ll do anything to protect their young.’

One study, commissioned by Liskeard Town Council six years ago, counted 151 seagulls in the town - almost all herring gulls

One study, commissioned by Liskeard Town Council six years ago, counted 151 seagulls in the town – almost all herring gulls

Carol Kent, 66, said she would do anything she could to defend the birds right to nest locally

Carol Kent, 66, said she would do anything she could to defend the birds right to nest locally

In his report bird expert Peter Rock said they were particularly attracted to asbestos roofs - common in the Poldhu district - because these provided stability for nests

In his report bird expert Peter Rock said they were particularly attracted to asbestos roofs – common in the Poldhu district – because these provided stability for nests

One resident, who asked not to be named, said the community had been deeply divided by the presence of the gulls.

‘There’s talk that one guy is threatening to shoot them with a BB gun,’ he said

‘That is completely unacceptable. They’re a protected species. We should live and let live.’

Sheila Seccombe, 63, said: ‘There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having gulls around.

‘If you feed them, what do you expect.’

And Carol Kent, 66, said she would do anything she could to defend the birds right to nest locally.

‘I’m all for them,’ she said. ‘Some people will moan about anything. Will they be complaining about the badgers and the foxes next?’

The seabirds, who have nested in large numbers on a number of residential streets aggressively protect their youngsters when they begin to hatch and leave the nest

The seabirds, who have nested in large numbers on a number of residential streets aggressively protect their youngsters when they begin to hatch and leave the nest

In a letter to residents last week Royal Mail's customer operations manager for the Liskeard depot, Ryan Lean, wrote: 'As you may be aware, we are currently experiencing some difficulties safely delivering to you and your neighbour'

In a letter to residents last week Royal Mail’s customer operations manager for the Liskeard depot, Ryan Lean, wrote: ‘As you may be aware, we are currently experiencing some difficulties safely delivering to you and your neighbour’

In a letter to residents last week Royal Mail’s customer operations manager for the Liskeard depot, Ryan Lean, wrote: ‘As you may be aware, we are currently experiencing some difficulties safely delivering to you and your neighbour due to seagulls in the area swooping at delivery staff to protect their young.

‘The purpose of this letter is to firstly advise you of the issues we are experiencing but also to assure you that we will continue to attempt deliveries every day.’

In fact most residents interviewed by Mail Online confirmed that deliveries had not been significantly affected.

One study, commissioned by Liskeard Town Council six years ago, counted 151 seagulls in the town – almost all herring gulls.

In his report bird expert Peter Rock said they were particularly attracted to asbestos roofs – common in the Poldhu district – because these provided stability for nests.

He said any large collection of urban gulls – known as ‘The Club’ – saw roofs as ‘a place where they can rest in their down-time from other duties such as incubation without having to face problems of territoriality.’

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: ‘The consistent delivery of mail and the safety of our employees are two of our highest priorities. We have written to residents to assure everyone that deliveries continue to be made every day.

‘However, on occasions where it is not possible to make a delivery safely, we will attempt to deliver the following day.’

Cornwall Council and Liskeard Town Council have been contacted for comment.

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