Northern Ireland

Seagull menace hovers over Belfast city centre

One of the warning signs on the top floor of a high-rise car park in Belfast's High Street
Image caption One of the warning signs on the top floor of a high-rise car park in Belfast's High Street

Aggressive behaviour by nesting seagulls has led to a Belfast business erecting warning notices to customers.

Bird experts said the high flat roofs of inner-city buildings offer the perfect site for gulls to incubate their eggs and raise their young.

The gulls become very protective of their young in summer and tend to be aggressive towards anyone or anything perceived as a threat.

At least one business has erected signs warning customers about the gulls.

Drivers using the top floor of the Hi Park car park in Belfast's High Street are faced with a notice telling them to beware of "seagulls nesting with young".

Several drivers using a car park near the Belfast Metropolitan College in Brunswick Street have reported being regularly "buzzed" by angry gulls.

'Perceived threat'

The incidents are an annual summer occurrence and continue until the young herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls leave their nests.

Judith Carville of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "The summer months are the breeding season for many birds and it is quite common for gulls to become protective if they perceive a threat to their nearby nests. Like any new parents.

"These birds are merely protecting their young.

"The flat roofs of inner city buildings are perfect for these birds, in particular herring and lesser black-blacked gulls, to raise their young."

Ms Carville said the good news was that chicks would be fledging and flying the nest from now onwards "which means their parents will be less agitated by human activity".

"Until then, we would urge people to be aware of why gulls may appear to be acting aggressively and refrain from antagonising them at this very important time of year," she said.