Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 10:32 UK

Gull-dodging vicar dons hard hat


Canon Graham Minors is now having to wear protective clothing

A vicar has been forced to start wearing a hard hat to church after being attacked by a pair of "dive bombing" seagulls in the graveyard.

The birds have nested at St Petroc's in Bodmin, Cornwall, and it is thought they are trying to protect their chick.

Their behaviour has caused complaints but the Reverend Canon Graham Minors said they should be protected.

He said they were "God's creatures" and would probably calm down once the fledgling got bigger.

The birds started attacking people walking through the graveyard about two weeks ago.

Mr Minors said: "It is frightening because the first thing you feel is a rush of wind as the birds come in.

Rev Canon Graham Minors
All eyes on the heavens for the hard-hatted minister

"It seemed sensible to have an umbrella or a hard hat, and in the end I chose both."

He said some people had suggested getting a shotgun down to deal with them but he would be "distressed" if that happened.

He said the incident had reminded him of St Paul's call in the bible to put on "heavenly armour".

St Petroc's is the largest parish church in Cornwall and used regularly for services and other events.

According to the RSPB, the seagull population has dropped 40% in the last 30 years due to over fishing and other factors.

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