Gulls eating ducklings and pestering visitors
VOLUNTEERS and visitors have called for action against the increasing number of seagulls at an Ilfracombe park after several ducklings were killed and eaten by the birds.
Visitors to Bicclescombe Park have also complained about the gulls defecating on their heads and being a general nuisance.
The complaints have led to calls for regular visits from a bird of prey to scare the gulls away for good.
Gary Tovey, a volunteer at Bicclescombe Mill, said he had never seen so many gulls at the park.
He said: "There's been a definite increase. We think they have been moved off nearby roofs and are now nesting in people's driveways and gardens.
"Unfortunately they have started congregating at the park at the same time as several ducklings have been born.
"We believe around 30 ducklings have been born in total but more than 20 of them have gone missing.
"It's possible that other predators such as rats or badgers might have killed them but several people have reported seeing gulls swoop and swallow them whole."
Vanessa Archer, chairman of the Bicclescombe Park Improvement Group, believes there are more sea gulls at the park than at the pier.
She said: "A gardener here actually caught a duckling which had been dropped by a seagull in mid-flight.
"It's very sad when families come to feed the ducks and it is spoilt by the gulls, they just bombard you. It is a really big problem and something needs to be done."
Gary said several people had complained about getting bird mess on their hair and clothes.
He said: "The birds also leave their mess on the path around the pond which makes it very slippery and affects the water quality."
Gary believes regular visits from a trained bird of prey would scare away the gulls.
He said: "We had a man bring a hawk to the park a couple of weeks ago and it worked a treat. The gulls left the park very quickly.
"If we could make these visits more regular and combine it with a few fake birds of prey I think it could get rid of the gulls for good.
"I would encourage people who come to feed the ducks to do it in the areas which are covered by trees.
"It helps to drop the bread close to your feet as gulls are reluctant to come too close."
Source: This is North Devon