Novel seagull scarer employed at Helston College
A winged warden is watching over the children at Helston Community College by scaring off nuisance seagulls that are dive bombing students and stealing snacks.
“Tweaky” the Harris Hawk is just one of several birds of prey that falconer Richy Hicks brings in to the college during term time.
By flying around the school grounds once a week, these imposing predators keep seagull numbers down and prevent them from hassling students and staff.
College bursar, Lois Horn, first invited Richy to fly his hawks last year as an experiment.
She said: “The problem we have here is we have an awful lot of flat roofs, which the seagulls obviously enjoy and we have an awful lot of students, who eat outside at times.
“Last year in particular the problem became acute with rather better weather than we have had this year.”
Not only would the seagulls mob pupils and steal food, but they would also attack caretaking staff who were trying to access the roofs, Lois said.
She added: “We can provide the caretakers with helmets and encourage the students to dispose of their litter more carefully, but that in itself does not solve the problem.
“Inviting in a falconer is quite an expensive outlay, but it ticked some boxes for me in terms of potential educational advantages - plus it's a far more humane way to deal with them, far more so than those bird scarers.
“The bird of prey does not attack the seagulls, if anything it's the other way around.
“What the bird does is it's a predator, so the seagulls see it as a threat and they gradually move away - but it's quite a long process.”
While the hawks have been known to pin seagulls down if violently attacked, they won't aim to kill them because they don't see them as a food source.
Speaking about “Tweaky,” Richy said: “She knows I'm the food source so she flies with me.
“The youngsters do like it. Some of them are a bit nervous when she flies over their heads but it's a bit of an experience for them.
“With the amount of gulls that are here it can take up to three years to slowly move them out.
"It's moving them slowly but they are eventually going. They are getting the message,” he added.