FALCONS Murphy and Dizzy are giving the seagulls in West Bay a run for their money this season.

The Watch House Café is employing a falconer to control an increasingly dangerous problem.

Emily Attrill said they had decided to try and do something to deter the gulls harassing customers.

She said: “West Bay is pretty famous for having a lot of seagulls and we have noticed a lot of strange things happening.

“The staff saw one swallow a whole soup spoon and another one likes to take tea pots off the table and take them into the sea.

“It is just not very nice when customers are sitting outside eating and the gulls are trying to steal their chips.

“It is for the whole of West Bay so hopefully by doing this we will be able to benefit other businesses not just ourselves.

“Another concern is the safety of our customers because people have had their cheeks cut when seagulls try to steal their food. “The man who is helping us has had quite a few incidents of that recently.”

Falconer Fin Parker of Bird and Pest South West uses Murphy his male Harris Hawk and Dizzy his hybrid cross Peregrine and Lanner falcon for five hours at a time on different days so the gulls don’t catch on to his routine.

So far people have greeted the initiative positively but one women did mention the added noise, said Emily.

She said: “When the birds first come the gulls do make a lot of noise because it is their alarm call but after about ten minutes it goes completely silent.

“We have already noticed a big difference but we will have to keep assessing.

“It is quite expensive but hopefully it will be worth it.

“He can’t promise that they will 100 per cent disappear but it is worth a try and it is quite exciting for the customers to see the birds flying around.

“We are just trying it for this season.”

Mr Parker said his falcons only scare the gulls off so licences are not needed.

He said: “The gulls recognise them as a threat to both themselves and their chicks and it is a process of discouraging them from an area.”

Mr Parker has been flying his birds for three years at Exmouth Community College and has seen breeding pairs dwindle from about 40 pairs to around two or three this season.

“It takes two or three seasons to get the message.

“Each job has its own merits and it depends on what you do.

“Flying birds on their own without removing the nests is only going to push them so far for a limited amount of time but they do get the message eventually depending on how long they have been stealing the food and how much food is about for them and how often you fly the birds.”