Drones v gulls in Worcester
Drones have been used for the first time as part of work to control gull numbers in Worcester.
Drones fitted with cameras were sent up in High Street to fly over buildings and spot hard-to-reach gull nests.
The newly-discovered nests will be targeted as part of Worcester City Council’s work to control gull numbers in the city by replacing the birds’ eggs with life-like dummies, to bring down the numbers of chicks that hatch here.
Councillor Joy Squires, Chair of the City Council’s Environment Committee, said: “The drones were able to reveal hard-to-find gull nests hidden between chimney pots or squeezed into narrow roof gullies.
“We would never have been able to spot these nests from the ground, so to get a bird’s eye view is enormously helpful as we increase our efforts to control gull numbers in the city.”
The drones were flown by an expert from Firefly Aerial Solutions, who went into action at 5am on Sunday June 17.
They were used to spot a number of nests with young gull chicks. Because gulls habitually nest in the same spots each year, this means that action can be taken in the next breeding season to reduce the numbers hatching in the city.
Since 2008, the City Council has been running an egg-replacement programme targeting gulls. This sees the birds’ eggs replaced by convincing dummies in their nests. The gulls continue to sit on the fake eggs and do not lay replacements.
As gulls instinctively return to the area they hatched for the breeding season, this tactic helps control the number of breeding pairs in the city. Since the programme began, the number of breeding pairs has fallen from 317 to 192.
Councillor Alan Feeney, Vice Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “Knowing where more gulls’ nests are hidden means that when it gets to breeding season next year we’ll be able to bring in a cherry picker to reach and treat even more of their nests.
“If fewer chicks hatch each year in Worcester, that means there will be fewer adult birds around to make noise, scavenge food and spread their droppings on our buildings and pavements.”
The City Council is now setting aside £15,000 each year to tackle the problem of gulls in the city. The money is being spent on a range of initiatives, including expanding the egg replacement programme, trials of new gull-proof bins, funding for gull-proof waste sacks for businesses and exploring whether painting roofs red deters gulls from landing and nesting on them.
The fund also supports the publicity campaign launched earlier this month. “Feed the bins, not the gulls” encourages residents and visitors to dispose of their food waste properly so that gulls are not able to scavenge it.
Posters, radio adverts, advice leaflets, and social media with the hashtag #DontFeedGulls are all being used as part of the campaign.
Find out more and download posters and leaflets at www.worcester.gov.uk/gulls.