Saturday, January 30, 2016

Water pistol-wielding residents want aggressive swans moved from river

A pair of aggressive swans are making life a misery for a community in Thrupp, Gloucestershire. Householders at Hope Mill Park have been at the mercy of the birds for more than six years, but recently the situation has become unbearable. Cars have been attacked while some residents on the site, which is for the over 50s, have even been chased down the road by the birds, which live on the River Frome. Some householders are too scared to hang out their washing or mow the lawn and have taken to using water pistols and broomsticks to keep the swans at bay.

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” said Angela Helbrow, 53. “We moved here two years ago thinking it would be a nice place to retire but it’s become a living hell. I’m scared to leave the house at times. I can’t even go outside to hang up the washing anymore. I was doing my knitting last week and they came right up from the river to the patio doors and began pecking on the window. Now I have a garden hoe outside to shoo them away.” Mrs Helbrow, who lives with partner Colin Lake, 55, said the swans had become extremely territorial over the past couple of months. “We’ve tried everything to avoid them and not disturb them,” she said. “But they are just so vicious. They regularly harass cyclists, hiss at cars and even lorries.

“They chase people up the road and even attacked a toddler last year. The poor postman has to run the gauntlet every day. I once even saw an elderly lady fighting one off with her walking stick. People are getting chased every day now. We’re fed up.” The genders of the swans are not known but they do not nest or have cygnets. Because of the narrow waterway running through the site they have been unable to take off to migrate. Barbara Morse, 66, who has lived on the park for six years, said incidents were now occurring daily. “There are lots of elderly residents here. It’s supposed to be a peaceful place to live but at the moment it’s anything but,” she said. “They attacked my great granddaughter not too long ago. It scared her half to death.

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“And the mess they leave on the ground is unbelievable. Our lawn is ruined. We keep a small water pistol by the door to shoo them off. I think the entire community would like to see these swans moved to a more suitable location. I’m sure we and the swans would benefit.” But not all residents are of the same opinion. Glynis Robinson said: “They are magnificent creatures who have more right than we do to live by the river. One of them gets a little protective but people only have to give them a bit of space and he leaves them alone. I have seen people with small children feeding them who are perfectly safe. It’s a nonsense to say they are aggressive. These swans are part of the delight of living by the river. Seeing them makes my day beautiful.”

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