FERRY bosses have brought in a hawk in a bid to scare off pigeons and seagulls calling Portsmouth International Port their home.
Bolt the Harris hawk has been hired as managers look for a solution to problems caused by large numbers of pigeons, rooks and seagulls.
The idea isn’t a flight of fancy – falcons and hawks are already used at Trafalgar Square and Wimbledon to reduce the number of pigeons nesting in public areas.
It’s considered a humane way of scaring the birds off, and stopping them causing damage.
Dean Nicholls, port building surveyor, said: ‘The droppings cause health and safety concerns in public places, and also where quay workers handle machinery in areas where birds have been.’
Bolt is one of 140 birds of prey that live at Liberty’s Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre in Ringwood.
Jayson Bridges, who was at the port with Bolt, manages the centre with his mother Linda.
As the three-year-old Harris hawk went to work around the quayside and terminal building, Jayson explained how he gets his birds of prey to do their job.
He said: ‘I keep them at “peckish weight”, which means they are just the hungry side of hunting.
‘That way they will return.
‘If a bird is seven to 14 grams overweight then they wouldn’t have the motivation.’
The raptor only has to visit for an hour or so every two or three weeks to have a marked effect.
Birds at the port this week certainly took notice of Bolt, with seagulls and rooks calling out to each other to warn of his presence.
Managers at Portsmouth International Port will monitor the success of this and future visits to see if it reduces the number of birds roosting in the local area.
If successful, Bolt and his friends could become a regular feature at the port.