Dive-bombing seagulls are forcing residents to use umbrellas in the height of summer – to protect themselves from attack.
Residents of New Lane in Newhaven have adopted the measure to protect themselves from the aerial threat as they pass the nesting sites on their own roofs.
They have contacted various animal groups and the city council asking for help and advice to deal with the menace, but it is understood that a cull is not being considered at the moment because that would be “extremely difficult” within current legislation.
Angela Docherty, 65, who daren’t go out on her own balcony for fear of an attack, said: “They are the neighbours from hell. We are being terrorised. It’s like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. You have just got to make a dash for it, and run in and out of cover.
“Most people use doorways but they keep going for you. It’s been happening for years but now it’s out of control. I know they are protecting their young but there are people who have been bitten or stabbed on the head. And it’s not just people living on the street they attack. It’s a nightmare.”
Ellen Johnston, 57, said: “I never leave the house without an umbrella and you can feel them bouncing off. At the moment one of their young has fallen off the roof, and we are getting attacked even more. They grab your hair and swoop so close.”
Residents reported seeing a mother grab her young baby and dash to the car after being bombarded by the gulls.
And another incident saw five gulls attack a single person – although residents said they mostly attack “in twos”. A teenage girl was injured by the gulls, “though not seriously”, and another cornered in a doorway, they said.
Douglas Wilson, 61, said he was attacked at least twice a week, adding: “We have got elderly people here who are frightened to go out of their doors. Some of them are unsteady on their feet.”
A council spokesperson said: “We recognise that seagulls can be a nuisance, particularly during the nesting period between April and August. The city provides advice to residents about how to deter gulls from nesting on their properties and offers pest control services on a commercial basis.”
Last year a Facebook campaign by Leith residents calling for a cull on seagulls attracted huge support.
Keith Morton, a species policy officer with RSPB Scotland, said the culprits would be lesser black-backed gull or herring gulls, which can be fiercely protective of their young.
He said: “There are measures you can take but you need to take them before the gull start nesting: it tends to become a prominent issue when it’s already too late.”
He added that a cull was only a short-term measure and the best solution was not to leave food waste around and to make roof spaces less attractive as potential nesting sites.