1 EAGLETON NOTES: Deterring Hunters

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Deterring Hunters

The goldfish are thriving.  The largest has grown from 3" to about 9" in the two years since I got them.  Until a few days ago when David was here I had never seen a seagull try to take one.  Then one evening a Black-backed Gull flew into the pond, attempted to get one (but got a beak full of pondweed instead) and flew off: all within a few seconds.  David was in the study and I was in the kitchen.  We both raced out.  We immediately erected a rough and ready defence-against-the-maurauding-gulls contraption.  It's still there and still deterring the enemy who makes constant forays to see if he can get at the fish.  So my next challenge is to see if I can find an acceptable deterrent which doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the pond and rockery but keeps the fish safe.  

I would perhaps understand a bit better and be more sympathetic to the seagull if there wasn't plentiful stocks of sand eels down in the bay a hundred metres away. 


Can I just add that the beautiful weather we've had the last few days has kept me from Blogland during the day and the fact that the internet has been down a lot and I've had visitors has kept me off in the evening and first thing in the morning.  It's a hard life.  My new bed has arrived though and is ready for occupation tonight so perhaps tomorrow...... 

21 comments:

  1. Try a bit of decking. They should be able to hide under that. Conversely it will give the gulls somewhere to perch and wait so perhaps not.

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    1. When I put the goldfish in I put in a crate with large holes in the sides as an escape place and they do use it but the seagulls swoop in so quickly.

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  2. Will a scarecrow work with seagulls?

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    1. Not even a human one Carol. Black-backed Gulls are totally fearless. They have a wingspan of about 31"/79cm and beaks of steel. Yesterday I saw a pair seeing off some Great Skuas which are the vicious pirates of the sea feared by almost all other seabirds.

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  3. People sometimes employ plastic herons by the sides of ponds but I guess that seagulls are as intelligent as magpies and may simply laugh at plastic herons. However, they would look a lot better than your current defence mechanism. Maybe a plastic hawk flying from a cane?

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    1. Yesterday when my bed was being delivered and I couldn't get to my camera (because I had one end of the bed!) two Black-backed Gulls were seeing off a pair of Buzzards right overhead and I missed a cracking shot given the perfect light. Later they saw off two Great Skuas. They may have a nest somewhere around here. I think they would laugh at a Heron. I've seen them peck the eyes out of new-born lambs. They really are the most despicable of bird life and get they are protected so you can't even say 'shoo' to them.

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  4. Here it's mink that steal the fish.

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    1. Interestingly Red we have mink on the Island but not yet near here. That's one thing I hadn't thought of. Mind you keeping fish in an ornamental pond outside the town is a very unusual thing to do.

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  5. My parents have a goldfish pond at their allotment, and a few times in the past it has had unwelcome visitors of the Heron family. For one or two summers, my Dad had a net across the pond. It didn't look beautiful, but apparently, it helped to make the pond unattractive enough for herons and other birds; they have not come back again.

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    1. I think, Meike, that it's going to have to be a net whilst I have the goldfish. Another alternative is string or cotton which will tangle their wings and they seem to sense that.

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  6. Perhaps you could commission an artist to make an aesthetically pleasing web of thread? Jean

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    1. Something along those lines sounds the most acceptable solution Jean.

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  7. I think around here plastic bags would attract the gulls (used to town environment!) rather than deter them... When people leave garbage bags beside full bins for example, we have the gulls and the crows fighting for them! :)

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    1. Monica the bags were there to alert the birds to the strings. I don't think they are necessary now. I agree that if they were just sitting around in town then the bags would be a target for the gulls. Here in a rural sheep farming (ostensibly) community absolutely no one would ever feed a gull and our refuse is all collected in wheelie bins so our gulls are not urban scavengers.

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  8. I would believe anything of seagulls after I saw one snatch a bag of chips from a five year olds hand! Glad you're finding lots of nice things to do.

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    1. Jenny they can be really vicious and we have brought it on ourselves in many ways because people feed them and leave food litter all over the place. Instead of seabirds and scavengers clearing up the dead they have become chip eaters. I hope people realise that they are being really cruel and probably making the gulls fat and giving them heart disease. Having said all that at least the ones trying to get my fish can recognise a healthy meal when they see one!

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  9. Good thing you saw the culprit and you were able to devise a protective thingamabob for the time being.
    I think a net would work, but I'm sure if you googled the problem you're having that there are lots of other folks in the same boat that have shared their remedies online.....good luck.

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    1. I've Googled the problem (I wonder if 'Googled' requires a capital letter in that situation) and the results have been fascinating. Did you know for example that gulls don't eat fish? Of course they do but the number of answers which said they didn't was amazing: prodents of an urban ignorance.

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    2. 'Products of an urban ignorance'. Where is the spillchucker when you need it?

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  10. I hope you figure out the right contraption to keep the gulls away from the fish, a bit more pretty than the rope and bags. Raccoons like to get the fish from ponds here in California.

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    1. Terra in parts of the Island mink would be a problem but, so far, we've been spared that menace here on Point.

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