27 July 2005

Sexist seagulls terrorise Somerset posties

Nesting gulls attack male postmen
By Jenny Booth, Times Online

Male postmen in a Somerset town have been advised to carry long bamboo canes to fend off attacks from a flock of man-hating seagulls. The birds have already knocked one startled male postman off his bike in Highbridge and left another running for cover. But when a postwoman took over the deliveries in the street where the gulls are raising their chicks, the birds left her alone. Now Royal Mail has been forced to timetable postwomen whenever possible to work the round, and to swap their male counterparts to"safer areas".

The problem came to a head last week, when the regular postman complained to his bosses that he had been attacked by seagulls, who had dive-bombed at his head. Suspecting he may be exaggerating, his manager visited the two streets where he claimed he was attacked and was forced into beating a hasty retreat as the gulls swooped down on him.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Last week our regular postman went to attempt a delivery at a couple of houses and was dive-bombed by some very feisty seagulls. I think the manager thought he might be telling a tall story but whenever we get a report like this we do a health and safety risk assessment."The manager got knocked off his feet and isn't quite as mocking any more. He had to make a run for it after falling to the ground. Strangely though, when a woman did the same round last week they took no notice at all. They don't seem to see her as a threat. We're going to try and keep her on that round until the seagulls calm down a bit."

The birds, who are nesting in Southend Gardens and Donstan Road, are particularly protective of their offspring when they are under two months of age. A spokeswoman for the RSPB admitted she was baffled by the sexist gullattacks. She said: "I've not heard of gulls distinguishing between genders before. I'm not sure it's happened before. But they're not really attacking people - they're defending their nests, just like any other animal does. Gulls are particularly protective at this time of year when they're rearing their young."

She said that one possible way for postmen to fend off the birds would be to hold up a stick, which the seagulls would attack instead. "Maybe they could stick a garden cane in their postbags. That would prevent anything untoward happening."

The Times, 26 July 2005

[Where's Alfred Hitchcock when you need him, eh?]

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