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Last Updated: Monday March 30 2009 07:46 GMT

Ricky checks out school's seagull problem

Seagulls on the school roof

Ricky finds out why seagulls are causing a snack ban at school

Pupils at a school in Scotland aren't allowed to take snacks into the playground any more because they're being attacked by scavenging seagulls.

Ricky went along to see how bad the birds are.


"The minute I stepped outside Inverness airport I could hear them.

Loud calls coming from the distance, flying above and around me. No, I'm not talking about aeroplanes, I'm talking about seagulls.

Newsround sent me to Nairn in Scotland where seagulls are causing havoc for the students at Milbank Primary School.

Greedy gulls

Seagulls perched on the roof of the school
Lots of the birds like to perch on the school roof

Lots of children have been attacked by the gulls and some of them have even had their food and personal belongings stolen.

Over the last couple of weeks, the gulls have scratched children's faces, emptied bins and even landed on people's heads.

The problem got so bad that headmistress Mrs Mackay banned everyone from eating in the playground.

It's hoped that the seagulls will no longer swoop down looking for food if the children only eat indoors and away from the birds.

So far, the food ban has worked. The seagulls are no longer attacking the children.

Protecting nests

Ricky chatting to Eilidh Smith from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Eilidh told Ricky the birds were probably protecting their nests

When I arrived at the school I noticed the majority of the birds were sitting happily on the school's roof. Occasionally some of them flew onto the ground looking for a snack, but none of them seemed to bother anyone.

At the school I met up with Eilidh Smith from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

She told me that at this time of year the seagulls guard their nests, so they're more protective of their territory and that's one of the reason why they're bothering everyone in the playground.

She also told me that Nairn is very close to the coast, where there used to be a big fishing community. That fishing community is much smaller now, so the seagulls are coming inland to find a new source of food.

Tormented teachers

Ricky talking to one of the teachers
This teacher had a hair-raising experience with one of the birds

I couldn't believe some of the stories the kids were telling me about the seagulls.

One girl told me her purse was stolen by a seagull - it took it straight out of her hands! Another girl told me one landed on her head and scratched her cheek.

One of the teachers forgot the no food in the playground rule last week... she was in the playground eating a sweet when a seagull landed on her head.

The teacher was so afraid she threw her sweet on the floor so the bird would leave her alone.

With no chocolates, crisps or sandwiches being eaten outside anymore, the seagulls seem to be leaving everyone alone.

One good thing has come out of all this though - the playground is now a lot cleaner than it used to be!"

Ricky