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Fireworks disturbing nesting gulls? (1 Viewer)

deborah4

Well-known member
Over the past few weeks fireworks have been going off late in the evening with increasing regularity in the centre of the City. At the moment, fireworks going up in several different locations.

My concern yet again is for the unfledged gulls on the roof tops. Every firework that goes up is accompanied by the shrieks and dispersal of gulls that radiates out from the centre of the City. Obviously they are being sent up and driven away from the location of the fireworks. Unfortunately, the numbers of unfledged chicks that end up dead on the streets in the City always seems to be higher in the few days following firework activity but there's no way of proving any link. Combined with the general antipathy towards Herring Gulls in the City by a public who blame them for the noise that keeps them awake and rubbish in the streets, I'm beginning to wonder whether the gulls and their rather raucous youngsters are now being deliberately targeted by individuals who don't want them nesting on their roof tops which seems cruel in the extreme considering most of them now have youngsters as yet unable to fly but more than able to fall off a roof in panic.

Its surely no coincidence that apart from November, the greatest amount of firework activity is during the month that the City suffers the greatest ''inconveniences'' from nesting Herring/LBB Gulls.
 

deborah4

Well-known member
I meant to add that perhaps my concern is unfounded and if so, if anyone can point me to any evidence to suggest that, it would be appreciated. If not, then any suggestions as to how I might go about getting support to try and get fireworks banned for the period of nesting it would be appreciated.

(if anyone cares that is!)
 

Rose Fletcher

Rose from Australia - formerly Birdeye
Here in Australia I have seen enormous disturbance caused to birds by fireworks. There is no doubt that they cause intense panic, and that late at night when the birds are least able to cope with disturbances.

I have seen a large flock of birds go wheeling off into the dark sky (no city lights here), and then listened to them wheeling above, as they could not see to land. Unfortunately, the birds most easily observed at these times are the loudest and most numerous - which means that they are the least popular birds around. I have seen and heard smaller, quieter birds in a similar panic, bur they tend to go unnoticed under the racket made by the louder species.

My point is this: it might be difficult to raise enough support to make changes if you concentrate on Gulls, which are nowhere very popular with the public. But if you could locate another species that is also being adversely affected by the fireworks, a more "popular" species, then a campaign to stop the fireworks could be more easily raised. Are there other birds that nest in the same area? In spite of the presence of the Gulls, there must be other birds in the vicinity.

It does seem rather curious that people complain that Herring Gulls make too much noise, but don't also see the same problem with fireworks, but there you have it - people's attitudes are not always governed by common sense. You need to appeal to something else in their nature.

I agree that, whatever people think of Herring Gulls, it's cruel to cause major disturbance while they have chicks in the nest - so good luck, I hope you can be heard by somebody who can help.
 

deborah4

Well-known member
But if you could locate another species that is also being adversely affected by the fireworks, a more "popular" species, then a campaign to stop the fireworks could be more easily raised. Are there other birds that nest in the same area? In spite of the presence of the Gulls, there must be other birds in the vicinity.
.

Thanks for the considered reply Rose. We have of course plenty of garden birds nesting in the City but they fledge slightly earlier than the gulls. The gulls are obviously particularly vulnerable as it's the sparks/bursts of gunpowder in the sky that could be particularly disturbing as well as the noise. Smaller birds tend to knuckle down under cover unless directly threatened.

There's a possibility the nesting Peregrines in the City could be 'victims' of fireworks - certainly after one of the largest 'displays' a few weeks ago very close to their nest box in the City Centre, one of the newly fledged chicks had disappeared the following day and not been seen since but again that could be coincidence.

Proving there's a correlation between increasing grounded gull chicks and disturbance could be very difficult. Proving any disturbance is intentional would be even harder I think despite what I suspect.

I'll try and contact the Sussex Wildlife Liaison Officer on Monday and see what he suggests.
 

Rose Fletcher

Rose from Australia - formerly Birdeye
Deborah, don't underestimate the value of these observations of yours, especially if there's someone else who can back you up. While not exactly proof, a series of "coincidences" could be enough to spark some action - especially if you can bring Peregrine Falcons into the picture. Peregrines are so popular with city office workers.

The Wildlife Officer sounds like a good idea, because she/he will know the local laws, as well as what other birds may be nesting at the time. Good luck, and thanks for caring! :loveme:
 

deborah4

Well-known member
Why are there so many fireworks going off right now? Is it some kind of local celebration?

That's my point really, I believe these fireworks may be specifically being set off in some instances to persecute herring gulls and get them to vacate the roof tops - there are usually one or two organised but privately funded big displays during the summer months at weekends (I believe Chris Eubank used to do one) but it's the frequent setting off of sporadic fireworks at any time of the week from a whole range of localities in the City often only lasting a few minutes that concerns me particularly.

As for evidence that people are targeting Herring Gulls, my suspicions that fireworks could be being used to do that might be well founded having read this disturbing report ....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7529039.stm
 

KnockerNorton

Well-known member
Why are there so many fireworks going off right now? Is it some kind of local celebration?

It's exam time, prom time (they have such things now, I understand), leaving school time, end of semester. Could be lots of things I imagine. General parties and BBQs seem to warrant them these days. We get them at least a couple of time a week in this City, and there's no urban gulls. The Chinese and student contingents are particularly fond of them, from what i can gather, and let them off at the drop of a hat. I suppose that makes Chinese students the prime suspects?!

Never heard of them being used to scare gulls. One would think that they would be ineffective due to being too high and used at night when gulls are roosting and liable to sit tight.

One's just gone off right outside!
 

deborah4

Well-known member
It's exam time, prom time (they have such things now, I understand), leaving school time, end of semester. Could be lots of things I imagine. General parties and BBQs seem to warrant them these days. We get them at least a couple of time a week in this City, and there's no urban gulls. The Chinese and student contingents are particularly fond of them, from what i can gather, and let them off at the drop of a hat. I suppose that makes Chinese students the prime suspects?!

Never heard of them being used to scare gulls. One would think that they would be ineffective due to being too high and used at night when gulls are roosting and liable to sit tight.

One's just gone off right outside!


Actually your probably wrong on both accounts as far as my city is concerned. Gulls do not all roost quietly in one big happy group here at night, they are very active and spend a lot of time making feeding forays as well as flying over the City during the nesting season - If they did roost, people wouldn't be so antipathetic about the noise they are making all through the small hours. I should know, I've lived here for nigh on twenty years as well has having had to rescue a large number of Herring Gull chicks that have been found (co-incidently) on the roads following firework displays including one recently that you wrongly advised to leave to it's own devices in that situation. Fireworks are not necessarily high but if birds are panicked by the noise/flashing lights, it sets all the gulls off and the sky becomes full of reeling and screaming gulls - it's not particularly pleasant to lie in bed hearing birds being disturbed like this.

You do not have the experience that I do of my local area, nor do you have the experience of the antipathy that local people here have towards Herring Gulls (we do have an urban population, a very large one). We do not have a large population of Chinese students and most of the Students have already left for home during the summer. If you were a student (as I am) and if you lived where I live, you would know that of course. Perhaps you should read the link I posted if you think some people wouldn't think twice about targetting gulls deliberately with fireworks - just because you've never heard of it, it doesn't mean to say it doesn't happen.

(incidently, the rehab centre did thank me again contrary to what you advised would happen, both for bring in an abandoned Herring Gull chick and for the substantial donation of money and items, as well as for the assistance in releasing hand reared chicks but that of course was just my personal way of 'caring' for Herring Gulls and helping a Centre that does, others I understand, regard them as pests and not worth the effort.)
 
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KnockerNorton

Well-known member
You do not have the experience that I do of my local area,

I'm not sure, but I did ask what city and you never answered, I was assuming London, as you were using a capital letter for 'City'. I grew up in Brighton though, if that counts. London-on-Sea!

No, I'm not a student anymore that's true, but I do have a house in Oxford so do know a little of student life. Postgrad students are still around, of course. They're all quite into fireworks, and the school term has just ended too, so there are lots of parties.

I didn't say the fireworks weren't aimed at them, just that one would have thought it wouldn't be effective in driving them off.

Why not contact the council/borough noise abatement department to complain?
 
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deborah4

Well-known member
I'm not sure, but I did ask what city and you never answered, I was assuming London. i grew up in Brighton though, if that counts.

Then you'll know that we have a large population of Herring Gulls although what you might not know, is that the tolerance towards them has seriously diminished over the years - partly because the refuse collection was tendered out many years ago to a private contractor and far more is left on the streets now - along with an increase in the population, an increase in restuarants/cafes - all culminating in extremely littered streets once the seagulls have had their way. The town has become very noisy over the years, more so with the increase in the numbers of property run down and thus attracting a 'noisier' and 'later to bed' demographic of people in very close proximity with poor conversions of older properties with little sound proofing. The result of this (which has been proved time and time again over the past few years by the increase in noise complaints) is that people's tolerance to disturbance at night is very low indeed. The Herring Gull population takes the brunt of that frustration.

Personally I switch off from it - but do get disturbed by the anxious cries of young begging for food or panicking over their first flights from the roof. I also get disturbed by the adults when they get disturbed!

Apart from that, admittedly I don't like fireworks, they have terrified my pets over the years and tend to put my own nerves on edge!
 

deborah4

Well-known member
Why not contact the council/borough noise abatement department to complain?

I think that's one course of action - however, I don't think the fact that they are disturbing gulls would have any sway.

The problem too, is one of enforcement, even if a bye-law were introduced (which I think our local MP called for a few years ago) preventing them being used outside the month of November or organised displays, people would still get hold of them via the net or simply stock pile a few from buying them in November.
 

KnockerNorton

Well-known member
Then you'll know that we have a large population of Herring Gulls

where, London or Brighton?

more so with the increase in the numbers of property run down and thus attracting a 'noisier' and 'later to bed' demographic of people in very close proximity with poor conversions of older properties with little sound proofing.

students, then? In shared houses? That kind of demographic that has a lot of parties, so perhaps that's where the fireworks are emanating from? Again you could contact environmental health regarding nosie and litter. Or the police if you think they're deliberately targetting gulls with fireworks which is, of course, illegal. I would bet on there not being deliberate targetting, however. Fireworks are not restricted to November now and are used for any occasion, so the fact that it coincides with breeding may be more to do with breeding coinciding with summer, and therefore more outdoor activities. If it was aimed at the gulls, I would imagine that fireworks would be let off at them during the day too.
 

deborah4

Well-known member
where, London or Brighton?

students, then? In shared houses?

You answered your own question earlier regarding location.

If anyone is targetting HG's deliberately (and I do know of one incident here under investigation relating to an alleged HG shooting) I'm not suggesting it's students, or people living in run down accommodation (we have a very high number of homeless people now living in the centre of the city in squats or in B&B's and a desparate lack of adequate social housing) that could be targetting gulls but their lifestyles could be contributing to the falling tolerance level of people's threshold when it comes to noise related disturbance. The gulls become that much more of a 'nuisance' to people who might well have tolerated them in the past.

Anything that spooks a bird off it's nest and away from it's youngsters even for a few minutes is effective disturbance

It's pelting down with rain right now, so no fireworks!
 

Karl J

Well-known member
yes we have them round here too, in the summer. Gulls and fireworks that is. Wednesday evening i believe

it's a summer holiday thing, bright sparkly lights for the tourists down the sea front to go "woooo" at

Not sure if thats actually any help or not but, well, there you have it anyway
 

deborah4

Well-known member
Thanks Karl

As I said in post 1, I have absolutely no evidential foundation for thinking Gulls are being disturbed intentionally by fireworks although I've seen them being disturbed intentionally by other means - including people on a roof chasing them off.

However, I do think they are disturbed by fireworks as every time they go off, as flocks ascend into the air in a panic flying outwards from the area in which the fireworks are going up. Just how much disturbance it's causing, again, no evidence, just as I said before, there seems to be an increase of grounded chicks following large displays, but again no basis for a correlation really. Any other time of the year, there's not a problem, it's only during the breeding season we have so many on the roof tops here.
 

Kelvin Jones

Active member
Firework Legislation
Since August 7th 2004, it's been a criminal offence to let off fireworks between 11pm and 7am and anyone breaking the curfew risks a fine of up to £5,000 or six months imprisonment.
The curfew applies for 361 nights of the year but the legislation has identified four occasions as "permitted firework nights", which extend the hours of firework use. These are Bonfire Night (when there's an extension until midnight), Diwali Day (which has an extension until 1am), New Year's Eve (1am) and Chinese New Year (1am).
Other new legislation introduced this year makes it an offence for anyone under 18 to be in possession of fireworks in a public place and the police have new powers to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone breaking the law.
The legislation also covers the sale of noisy fireworks: it's now illegal to sell fireworks that are louder than 120 decibels.
Further regulations will be introduced in the New Year. From January 1st, fireworks will only be on general sale between October 15th and November 10th and for short periods around New Year, Chinese New Year and Diwali. Suppliers who want to sell fireworks outside these periods will need to apply for a licence from the city council.
Tighter controls on the import of fireworks will also be introduced.
The government's Fireworks Safety Campaign (DTI) (external link) provides downloadable guidance leaflets and materials for organisers of firework displays for the public, retailers selling fireworks, schools and the media, including the Firework Safety Code.

The law's been introduced to encourage people to use fireworks considerately - not to spoil your celebrations. And that's why there are four exceptions to the 11pmrule:

Bonfire Night: November 5th (until midnight)
Diwali Day: November 12th (until 1am)
New Year's Eve: December 31st (until 1am)
Chinese New Year: February 9th (until 1am)

If they are going off outside the permitted hours phone the police and complain. The more often you complain the higher their figures go so they will eventualy do something about their high figures. Government targets and stats are there to be used by us as well.
 

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