Seagull nesting on our roof

I'm delighted to say we have a herring gull nesting on our roof. Sorry to have so many questions...anxious parent thing... Our house is about 100 yards from the beach so these gulls belong here as much as we do (if not more). A nest was removed from a neighbours roof last year so we'd like to give 'our' gull as much protection as possible. From other threads I understand 'licensed' operators may be allowed to remove the nest - who would or could initiate a request to remove the nest? - can we head off any request at source at (say) the local council? If we make clear they (the gulls) are operating with the knowledge and consent of the landowner (us) would that help or be more likely to draw attention to their existence? Would the laws of trespass be sufficient to protect them? The roof is a South facing flat roof and gets very hot in full sun. Would a bowl of water help them? Would it be best to leave them entirely alone? Any advice/suggestions or experience would be greatly appreciated.
  • Hi John, sorry no one has got back to you yet. As you say it is illegal to disrupt or interfere with any nest during the breeding season. There will be local councils or bodies that have for whatever reasons have legal rights to do so, in whatever particular place that may be. I would have thought that as the nest is on your house in your grounds, and that if you were okay with this, no one can remove it. As you say you are on the beach front, the birds will be well aware of the correct place to nest and I am sure will raise their young okay. I would leave well alone and the birds will do the correct thing. I stand corrected by anyone more knowlegeable than me, who can give you other information.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    I'm not more knowledgeable, but agree with Catlady on this. Herring gulls can look after themselves if left alone, so that's got to be the best course of action.

  • In reply to Robbo:

    I must say I really like your enlightened attitude, John - not everyone welcomes nesting gulls.  The only thing I'd say is don't go too close to the young birds when they first come down - the parents are quite protective of them.  I hope your feathered family does well!

    Our herring gulls are red listed birds.  Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.

  • In reply to Clare:

    I've just lost a long and detailed though possibly not better post. Thank you for being there Catlady, Robbo, Clare and last but by no means least - Mrs Gull.

  • In reply to John C:

    All licences that allow for the destruction of birds nests, even of the species that can be 'controlled' under the general licence, require land owners permission.

    Some councils do have arrangements to control roof nesting gulls that are considered to be a nuisance in urban areas, but the people they employ to do this require permission before they can access the roofs where the birds are nesting.

    I doubt that you could be forced to allow 'control' without a very good reason (i.e. a demonstrable threat to public health), and even then it would probably require court action before it became enforceable.

  • In reply to RoyW:

    Thanks RoyW. I can't imagine anyone would go to court to remove one seagull nest so they should be safe.

    I had a minor panic when I met Mrs Gull in the car park - only to find Mr Gull sitting on the nest - looking rather fierce.

    Difficult not to like these birds.

  • In reply to John C:

    Hi John,

    Below is the law re: nesting gulls.

    The principal legislation dealing with the control of birds is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  The purpose of this section is to provide advice on the law but it is a guide only and is not meant to be authoritative.

    Generally it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird or interfere with its nest or eggs.  The penalties for disregarding the law can be severe.  No action may be taken against the gulls themselves, and it is illegal to kill or otherwise harm them.  In the event of a prosecution the maximum fine is £5000 and or a six month prison sentence.

    However, only when there is a need to preserve public health or public safety authorised persons may take, damage or destroy herring gull nests; or take or destroy herring gull eggs.  Such actions are not legal if the problem being addressed is noisy gulls or gulls damaging property.  No action may be taken unless the authorised person is satisfied that alternative methods to resolve the problem, such as scaring and proofing, are ineffective or impracticable.

    Only the owner of a building or the occupier can take action against the herring gulls on it but they can give someone else permission to act on their behalf.

    So all in all, only you can request the nest to be removed. More info here

    A word of caution (from an avid gull lover): gulls can become very aggressive when breeding, particularly if the young happen to fall from the nest. They will attack pets, people etc to protect their young and/or to get the food required. In these cases your neighbours may complain and some councils will act on the complain (this depends on where you live, different councils have different attitudes towards gulls. For instance, here is the advice given by Aberdeenshire council - they do remove nests and eggs!). You may want, therefore, to consider ways in which to make sure the young stay in the nest securely until they are ok to fly (assuming there are any). Keep us posted!

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

  • In reply to Marina P:

    It's not something I'd recommend in an area with a 'problem' gull population but it might be worth throwing them the odd scrap of food.  Gulls are intelligent and are capable of developing a degree of trust over time.  You'll never be matey with the parents but you might avoid relentless dive bombing when the chicks do leave the nest.

    Our herring gulls are red listed birds.  Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.

  • In reply to Clare:

    Good point Clare. Orkney Islands some years back we were 'cooking' for gulls every evening when we returned to the hotel. They learned it in two days and they would all collect at the top of the roof waiting for their food to be put out. Never once did one attack us for our food ...

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir