Living with gulls

Seagulls - an asset or a nuisance?

[Editor-in-chief’s note: Seagulls have featured quite often in Rye News since it launched four years ago for three reasons. Nests, rubbish and droppings. Nests and/or gulls simply hanging about on chimneys can cause chimneys to block and backfire into the home. In the old parts of Rye where bins cannot be used gulls used to tear open/tip up rubbish bags, spreading litter everywhere.
And gulls also leave their mark, when they perch or while flying on nearly everything but particularly, according to Rother District Council, in very, very large quantities on and inside our medieval Landgate.
Gulls can also be a nuisance if you’re eating outside. But I think the bikers frighten them off on Strand Quay, dogs have the same effect in The Standard’s garden, and the Wipers used to fly a hawk-like kite – as does Sussex College by Hastings Station.

The seagulls just love dustbin day in Rye

Another problem I was told (on a tour of the nature reserve) is that the largest gulls attack/eat the eggs/fledglings of the smallest gulls, who then have to nest again later in the year.
But, back in the older parts of town, cowls, barbed wire, pointed stakes etc have sprung up to protect chimneys, and Rother District Council has introduced heavy-duty (allegedly gull-proof) bin bags. No cure yet though has been found for bird droppings – frequently on cars (though, in time, it may provide useful evidence for traffic wardens).
But I personally don’t dislike the gulls intensely as I do not own a car, my recently built fireplace-free house has fake chimneys, and the only problem is the gulls still perch on the “fakes”, leaving a trail of white down the roof and on to the TV aerial – but the gulls are far too big to get at the swifts nesting under a neighbour’s eaves, though they are lurking ominously.]
Why do so many people in Rye appear to dislike herring gulls so intensely, writes Linda Harland. These elegant birds are on the red danger list in the UK. We don’t make enormous efforts to kill hedgehogs or water voles which are also endangered. Looking around the citadel roofs and chimneys it is possible to imagine that we are about to be bombarded by alien attackers.
The RSPB tells us that the overall population of herring gulls is plummeting and the lesser black-backed gull population has also declined in recent years. All species of gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This makes it illegal to kill or injure any gull, or damage or destroy a nest and its contents. Simple nuisance or minor damage to property are not legally sanctioned reasons to kill gulls.
The centre of Rye is built largely on the edge of a cliff, within sight of the sea, thus forming a natural habitat for gulls. Perhaps a warning should be placed in estate agents’ details for people thinking of moving into Rye. However, when living in central London some years ago, 70 miles from the sea, we had a colony of herring gulls nesting in a tower just behind our house! We learnt to live with them, and have come to admire them. After all they are monogamous and seem to be caring parents.
Let’s tolerate them while we are still lucky enough to have any wildlife in our towns.


  1. How can one compare hedgehogs and water voles to herring gulls which to many are a nuisance in the town? I wish more could be done to dissuade these creatures from making the mess they make on people’s properties but I doubt there is any solution other than to continue with cowls, barbed wire and pointed stakes.

  2. People need to be educated about the gulls behaviour.
    It’s quite simple really stop feeding them and they will soon go away.
    It’s their nature to scavenge so take away their food and they will go elsewhere. Simples..

  3. Your dead right masked crusader some people need to be educated about gulls behaviour. In my garden we used to have garden birds blue tits coal tits all types of finches.wrens most garden birds you can think of, not now these gulls have scared them away with their savage behaviour all we get this time of the year is herring gulls jackdaws and even carrion crows starlings sparrows and collared doves are visitors to my garden.
    these people who need to be educated probably don’t realise there is a
    £80-00 fine being seen feeding these rats with wings but I don’t suppose anybody will actually get fined. They are seabirds so do not feed them.


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