Feeling blue

The difficult and much-debated gull nuisance in our city raises its head again. It’s an issue graphically described in an email from Maeve Hamilton Hercod – who happens to be Chair of the Bristol and Bath Regional Blue Badge Guild. She writes:

“As you will know Blue Badge Tourist Guides are a regular presence in Abbey Churchyard, taking visitors on guided walks in the city.  They enhance the visitor offering in Bath and as chair of the local Bristol and Bath Regional Guild, I’m proud of what they do, both for the city and for the professionally trained guiding profession. 

However, a guide recently sent me the letter below.   

“Today, just a few minutes into my walk, as I was presenting to my group, I was ‘hit’ by a passing seagull – see the pictures attached. Of course, the show must go on and I cleaned off the mess as I continued, but my group were as shocked as me.

After the morning walk, a change of clothes was brought from home 20 miles away, so that I could be ready for the afternoon walk. During that one, it was the turn of one of my group to be ‘hit’ by a seagull! – and I used my anti-bacterial wipes again to help them clean up.  We make a point of carrying these wipes, as visitors are not generally prepared for this sort of onslaught: I’ve had to throw clothes away because they are so badly stained. 

Last week, one of my guests on a business visit was ‘hit’ on the head and had to use washroom facilities in a nearby cafe. It is common to hear of guests whose hotel stay is disrupted due to the noise of seagulls too.”

What does B&NES plan to do about these birds – primarily black-backed gulls, and the nuisance and noise that they create?  There is seldom a day at this time of year when you don’t witness some unfortunate being ‘hit’.  It’s embarrassing and unpleasant for one and all – and far from the image that the city would wish to present.”

I can now identify the guide ‘bombed’ by that passing gull. He is Andrew Clark – who sent me the pictures of his soiled clothing. He told me:

“This direct hit happened just a few minutes into the tour, so had to endure to mess and smell for another 2 hours, before a change of clothes arrived from home, meaning a 40-mile round trip. I now carry a change of clothes with me.

Also, in the afternoon of the same day, one of my poor guests took a direct hit and had to cleaned up.

A week previously, a young lady on a corporate event here in Bath and on a walk as part of that event suffered a hit on her head, necessitating a retirement to a local cafe to get cleaned up in their washroom.”

I have to say allowing outside catering in Abbey Church Yard may have made the issue worse with more food ‘on offer’ to the circling birds.


  1. The problem here is that as far as Natural England are concerned these gulls are ‘protected’. That may have been justified some years ago, but it is no longer the case as they are endemic in many towns and cities and cause havoc wherever their numbers are of the scale we see in Bath. BANES have to jump through hoops to get a ‘licence’ to take any sort of action against them, and even then it is certainly non-lethal. Natural England are the source of the problem and people need to protest to them directly or through our MP. A change in the law is needed.

  2. Not sure you can automatically blame the gulls for something that all birds do. Isn’t it just as likely to have been a pigeon? And Natural England just enforce the law as it stands; they certainly aren’t the source of the problem.

    1. I completely disagree. There is a world of difference between pigeon droppings and what emanates from gulls – you only have to look at the pavements. I think you might feel different if you were the recipient of a present from a gull – they are pretty disgusting, as described by the Guide in the article. And Natural England are the source of the problem – they have made it increasingly difficult for local authorities to implement any form of control.

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