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 riseFreeman 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.
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 pricesThe 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.