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Gull Power

PUBLISHED: 16:10 23 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THEY couldn't be described as cuddly or cute, lovely or loveable, and you certainly wouldn't want one as a pet.

In fact, most people probably feel they are perfect pests, scroungers and scavengers, and some folk are even scared of them.

THEY couldn't be described as cuddly or cute, lovely or loveable, and you certainly wouldn't want one as a pet.

In fact, most people probably feel they are perfect pests, scroungers and scavengers, and some folk are even scared of them.

But love 'em or hate 'em, seagulls are an indelible part of the seaside scene – and Felixstowe seems to have more of the birds than most resorts.

Now a local group is offering visitors and residents the chance to make friends with the resort's seagulls . . . and sponsor one!

Yes, for just £1, you can name a seagull and know that that bird swooping and mewing over the seafront, eagerly watching people eating their fast-food and brazenly attacking bins and discarded chip-wrappers, is your bird.

And you won't even be responsible if the bird misbehaves and drops a messy little package on someone's car, T-shirt or hat.

All the benefits of ownership, you might say, without the responsibility.

And there is no need to live in Felixstowe to take part because when there is a storm at hand, seagulls fly in land, as old seadogs will tell you – so there is always the chance of a visit from your gull, though it might want to shelter in the lounge.

The "adopt a seagull" scheme is part of the fundraising for Felixstowe's Coastwatch station, and will be taking place as part of the seafront watch group's open day on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

"We thought it might help the seagull population of Felixstowe if we enabled people to sponsor them," said Ron Bright, Coastwatch co-ordinator.

"People will pay £1 and we will issue them a certificate to say they have sponsored one of the birds.

"We can show them Emma or Clarissa or whichever bird it is in the sky. They might like to rename the birds themselves.

"It will make people think a little bit about the seagulls and might even make the gulls behave a little bit better. At least your own bird is not likely to mess on your car or steal you sandwich out of your hand as you are about to eat it!"

Felixstowe's seagulls do not have a good record for behaviour with complaints about the dreadful noise they make, and concern over the way they hunt in packs as they scavenge for tit-bits and food scraps.

At Landguard they have tugged rubbish out of the bins and made a dreadful mess in their quest for food.

But although some of them are quite large and look frightening close-up, at least they haven't assaulted people or animals, unlike elsewhere in the country.

A Yorkshire terrier was attacked by seagulls in Brixham, Devon, and died, and at another place on the south west coast a woman was taken to hospital with head injuries after being dive-bombed by gulls.

Mr Bright said all money raised from sponsoring the gulls will go towards the running and upkeep of the Coastwatch station, which is based in a Martello Tower "P" on Wireless Green on the south seafront, just off Langer Road.

Coastwatch volunteers keep a watch on the sea in all weathers to alert Coastguards to any swimmers, sailboarders, sailors and others in trouble on the beach and in the water and help co-ordinate rescue operations.

The open day is an opportunity to look round the Coastwatch station and find out more about its work. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer is also welcome to go along.

WEBLINKL: www.sailink.co.uk/coastwatch

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