Hawk brought in to deter gulls at Banchory Academy

A bird handler with harris hawk has been deployed at Banchory Academy to deter gulls - which are causing a nuisance to local residents - from nesting there.

The birds are common gulls - a protected species and strictly controlled by law - and the hawk was also used last year to counter a similar problem.

A former resident of the area, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The problem we had was ‘low-level’ nuisance from noise, and excrement, plus the gulls became quite aggressive, I guess when they had eggs/chicks to protect, and they would swoop down and dive bomb my kids, and the dog.

“I believe the hawk is the best available option in the circumstances, unless the legislation can be changed to make controlling this species of gull easier.

“It may also be possible to prevent the birds nesting by installing spikes and netting, but I don’t pretend to understand the constraints of the building or the council’s finances in this respect. However, I do think the council has a duty to tackle the nuisance it is harbouring in a responsible and timely manner.

“I think there has been a general rise in gull nuisance over the years, and I certainly noticed it at Banchory Academy.”

Cllr Karen Clark lives near the school and sympathises with local residents who have been in touch with her regarding the noise and the mess the gulls create.

“The measures taken last year had a noticeable effect on seagull numbers, so I am very pleased to hear confirmation from the council that there will be control measures again this year with the deployment of the hawk at Banchory Academy,” she said. “The intended start date was last week, just before the seagulls get settled for nesting, and initially the hawk will be there for three full days then half day sessions thereafter for the remainder of the nesting season.

“The birds are a real nuisance at this time of year and can be quite aggressive. Hopefully the presence of the hawk will be a deterrent and stop gulls nesting on the school roofs.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “During the nesting season, a contractor visits our buildings where there have been problems in the past, removing the nests of herring gulls.

“At Woodhill House, Westhill Academy, Banchory Academy and Primary School, along with Lairhillock Primary, we have an added problem in that the gulls nesting there include common gulls.

“As they are a more highly protected species, we cannot remove the nests, a different approach has to be taken and this is why we use the services of a falconer to deter and scare the birds.”