FIRST comes the tell-tale shadows, followed by the ominous flutter of feathers – building gradually to a crescendo of squawks.
Anyone nearby makes a bolt for the safety of their front door, dragging their petrified children behind them - hurriedly discarding bikes and toys.
Windows slam shut, curtains are closed and washing pulled from lines. And then dozens of seagulls descended like a plague of winged locusts on the quiet residential area.
The routine runs like clockwork three times a day, sometimes more.
But this isn’t an Alfred Hitchcock film. It is in fact the daily gauntlet run by residents of Mortimer Road on the Bridgemere Estate.
Frustrated locals have seen their street turned into an veritable aviary by one neighbour’s insistence on feeding the birds every day, just a stone’s throw away in nearby Filder Close.
And it isn’t just a few crumbs. At one stage the local was taking regular delivery of out-of-date loaves of bread from the milkman.
Fed-up Esther Samuels explained, there has been no real let-up. “This has been going on for four of five years now,” said the mother-of-two. “It starts as early as 6am most days and the bids know when they are about to be fed so start gathering. It starts with the shadows, then the noise is horrific – it ends with a giant gaggle of seagulls. I open my curtains to be greeted by a sea of gulls. I am really at my wits’ end.”
As well as the noise, locals face the problem that wherever gulls have been, a mess is surely left behind.
“The pavement, bins, fascia boards, cars and windows are caked in gull dung,” added Mrs Samuels. “And if left unchecked, seagulls droppings can be dangerous and a health risk. It can pass on bacterial and fungal infections to humans – with the young and elderly particularly at risk.
“I have spoken to the council but it seems that, because no local by-law exists to prevent people feeding birds, there is nothing anyone can do.”