185/365 – Meet Aries

“I’m afraid we have an infestation” are not the first words you want to hear when you check into your hotel on holiday, but this happened to us recently in Portugal.

“What of?” I asked.

“Seagulls” replied the manager, “we us an eagle to scare them away”!!!

At this my ears pricked up and I scanned the information leaflet he gave me, and I quote “In order to be able to control in an effective and ecological way we use the method of astonishment with the use of birds of prey where there is no physical damage to the invading birds.”

Now bear in mind the hotel is built on a cliff above the ocean and they are claiming an invasion of seabirds, I’m pretty sure the seagulls have been nesting here way before the hotel was built.

The next morning I was stood on the balcony when I noticed a man wandering the grounds by the swimming pool with a hawk on his arm. I grabbed my camera and rushed down to have a look and watch the “astonishment method” in action.

This is Aries a Harris Hawk who’s job is to basically intimidate yellow legged gulls and scare them away.

Harris hawk profile

Aries

I chatted with his keeper who introduced me to Aries. They visit this hotel and others twice a day and basically, from what I witnessed, they mildly irritate the gulls while they are there and then it’s back to normal.

Harris hawk with keeper

Harris hawk with keeper

The gulls would make a bit of a fuss with a few dives at Aries and would vacate their usual spots while he was in the grounds. As soon as he was gone they would return.

Yellow legged gulls enjoy the hotel facilities.

Yellow legged gulls enjoy the facilities.

From my perspective I loved seeing Aries up close and personal but as to his role in “astonishing” the gulls I wasn’t convinced, they just seemed slightly put out that he was there, before quickly returning to business as usual.

I didn’t find them invasive or a problem and after all the hotel has been built on their natural home. I’ve a feeling they’ll still be there long after the hotel has gone. However I do like the method, I’m sure there are some places where the gulls may be killed and their nests destroyed in order to clear the “infestation” so just pissing them off for an hour gets my vote.

Harris hawk portrait

Harris hawk portrait

 

170/365 – Take It Home

Rubbish is a huge problem to wildlife. It seems we’re starting to wake up to the danger of plastics in the environment but if you’re out in the country and you’ve taken food and drink with you take your waste home. You carried it there so carry it back with you. ( I cleared the cans from the river after taking this picture).

Grey wagtail on river pollution.

Grey wagtail on river pollution.