Seagulls strike again: holding pensioner prisoner


Penny Freeman, a 69-year-old pensioner from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, told The Sun that she had spent a terrifying four days trapped in her own home, after nesting seagulls on her roof started to attack her whenever she left the house.

So why do seagulls attack, and how can it blight an area?

Attacks on the rise

Freeman said that a pair of seagulls had nested in her roof and after their chicks hatched, they began to aggressively defend the nest. They saw Freeman and her brother as potential threats, so whenever they left the house, the gulls swooped. They also vomited on the pensioners, which she told the paper was a 'vile' experience. She was only able to leave the house when the chicks flew the nest.

Freeman's experience was nasty, but sadly it's not all that uncommon. Seagulls get very protective when they have young chicks in the nest - usually between May and the end of July. They swoop on people, vomiting and pecking at them, in order to scare them off.

The risk from gulls has increased as the number of birds multiplies. Britain's urban gull population is rising at a rate of 20% a year - and they live for up to 40 years. Their increasing numbers mean they are less and less afraid of people, so nest close to properties, causing havoc for months at a time.

Earlier this summer, the Royal Mail halted deliveries to Liskey Hill Crescent in Perranporth, Cornwall, because it could not guarantee its staff would be safe from bird attacks. A home in Eastborne received the same treatment, after a nesting pair caused the mail to suspend deliveries.

Elsewhere, in Newquay, Bank Street is gaining notoriety for gull attacks, a grandmother in Herne Bay in Kent has taken to wearing a protective colander on her head in the garden to keep the gulls at bey, and a block of flats in Belfast has become a no-go area after a flock of seagulls moved in.

House prices

The risky months are relatively short-lived. However, if your home is a regular nesting spot for gulls, and it gains a reputation for this risk, it could severely damage the desirability of the area. If the problem is widespread it can drag property prices down by as much as 9%.

If your home is at risk, therefore, it's worth investigating methods of deterring the birds, from putting netting or wire up on possible nesting spots, to installing spikes to keep the birds away. At the very least it's not a good idea to put out food for the birds, as this is one surefire way of attracting the pests to the property.

Factors damaging property value
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Seagulls strike again: holding pensioner prisoner

Pre-recession, homeowners would give little thought to the idea that local repossessions could affect the value of their home. 101 repossessions were recorded every day during the third quarter of 2011 and it has become a real concern.

A new crime map introduced in March 2011 was welcomed by buyers, but approached with trepidation by homeowners concerned about the impact on local property values. The map allows users to view crime statistics online by postcode to find out the crime rates and types of crime in any area.

It is widely recognized that schools with a good reputation increase competition and property demand within a local area, which in turn increases the values of property within the catchment area. Lose the school and the demand will cease too.

The devastation caused by flooding in recent years doesn't appear to paint a positive picture for homeowners faced with the financial and emotion cost of a huge clean up, insurance complications and the potential damaging effect on property values.

The proposed high speed rail link is depressing house prices for thousands of homeowners on the route and many homeowners feel helpless to stop tumbling property values.


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