On a par with wasps when it comes to creatures that can ruin a beach trip or picnic, seagulls are supremely pesky and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.
In fact, seagull numbers in urban areas in particular have doubled in the last 15 years, and cases where gulls attack humans are on the rise.
Just two weeks ago there were even warnings to watch out for gulls feasting on one of their favourite snacks, flying ants.
In large numbers the ants create formic acid, which, when eaten, can leave gulls behaving like happy – if confused – drunks.
So what should you do to avoid seagulls wrecking your day out? Here are some ideas…
1. Stay away from their babies
Seagulls will attack if they think their young are being threatened, so make sure you are not picnicking by any gull nests.
2. Shield your snacks
Seagulls don’t know how to distinguish between what they are and aren’t allowed to eat, so if you’re wandering around eating fish and chips or an ice-cream in the open, shield your food with your hands to deter the birds.
3. Carry an umbrella
If you’re worried about having your hands pecked, put up an umbrella or sun shade to ward off the gulls instead.
4. Keep Tupperware handy
If you’re picnicking, keep all your snacks in Tupperware, replacing the lids when you’ve grabbed what you want from them, so the gulls don’t join you.
5. Tidy up after yourself
Leaving leftovers and food wrappers out, instead of putting them straight in the bin, just provides a temptation to hungry gulls.
6. Carry a water pistol
As effective at keeping unknown cats out of your garden as warding off opportunistic gulls, a quick squirt of a water gun should make a bird think twice about attempting to steal your lunch.
7. Seek shelter
While sitting out on the sand or in the park in full sun might seem like a good idea, you’ll be sitting ducks for swooping gulls. Leaning against a wall or sitting under a tree will make it more difficult for them to reach you and your food.