Exeter pub installs shrieking alarm to stop dive-bombing seagulls

  • The Imperial in Exeter has used the bird alarm to try to deter seagulls

A popular pub in Exeter is trying different ways to protect its customers from dive-bombing seagulls.

Pubgoers at The Imperial Wetherspoons have noticed some strange sounds coming from the pub's outdoor area. The pub has installed a shrieking bird alarm to try to deter the gulls.

A spokesperson for Wetherspoons said: "The bird alarm was installed a couple of years ago.

"In the last few weeks it has been moved to a new, more effective location.

"Early signs are that is has been much more effective at deterring the seagulls, since it has been in the new location."

Seagulls are not an uncommon sight this time of year around places serving food - the birds are often seen taking food right out of people's hands.

It is a frequent source of frustration for those in the South West including a man, who is now being sought by police, after reportedly beating a seagull with a cricket bat on Marine Parade in Lyme Regis last month.

It's not the first time that The Imperial has tried new methods to help people enjoy a meal undisturbed by the thieving birds.

In 2019, they began using Dev, believed to be a falcon, to patrol the pub garden and keep seagulls away.

Dev the falcon was used to deter the seagulls Credit: BPM Media

A number of sites across Exeter also use birds of prey including in industrial estates in Marsh Barton and Sowton.

Exeter Cathedral also installed seagull-proof bins in 2019 to keep litter from being strewn around the Cathedral Green.

The bird alarm has now been heard playing a variety of gull sounds. This is to prevent the feathered-visitors from becoming too accustomed to the same sound.

Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Exeter, who has extensive knowledge on gulls, has described the efficacy of using such alarms.

She said: "I found there isn't much research on the use of bird of prey calls, which a lot of people seem to use.

"I suspect this is because they are unlikely to work - gulls don't have many predators as adults (only really eagles, which are rare here), and predators don't call when they're hunting.

"I found that using gull alarm calls is something people have used effectively - alarm calls are the sound gulls make when they see a predator and they function to warn others.

"The most effective bird sounds people could use seem to be gull distress calls - these are the sounds gulls make when they have been caught, so they convey a high level of danger.

"The problem with using anything like this to deter animals is that animals habituate - after a while they will get used to the sounds, especially as they will suss out there is no danger present.

"This is why a combination of deterrents is best, such as visual deterrents or physical disturbance."

As one of the South West's major universities, the University of Exeter is no stranger to carrying out research on seagulls and their behaviour.

Recently, experts from the university teamed up with Deliveroo to come up with song that supposedly distracts the birds.