People in South Tyneside have been warned to exercise caution after swooping seagulls left revellers in a flutter at the weekend.
Some concert-goers at Bents Park in South Shields had to scurry for cover after the birds dived for food at the summer festival spectacular featuring The Feeling and Sophie Ellis-Bexter.
The incident, which one festival-goer caught on camera, comes amid reports of seagulls attacking and killing dogs in Cornwall.
And following a gull attack on a pet tortoise in that county earlier this month, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a ‘big conversation’ over culling.
But today Dougie Holden, National Trust ranger for The Leas and Whitburn Coastal Park, said Sunday’s incident was “just gulls doing what gulls do”.
An eyewitness told the Gazette that the birds swooped immediately after the end of the concert, to which many people had taken along picnics.
We are a coastal community and this is going to happen. The gulls have also become used to being among people, which makes these incidents more likely to happen.Dougie Holden
He said: “The gulls had been hovering just before the encore and as soon as the concert was over they swooped.
“It was almost as if they knew that the concert was finishing and that was the time to dive for the food. Some people were genuinely frightened.”
Mr Holden said: “If there is a feeding opportunity gulls will take it. If this food was not left around in the first place, it would not attract them.
“I really don’t see there is a growing problem with gulls. This is just gulls doing what gulls do. I’ve seen pictures with people holding food in the air, enticing the gulls to come for it. It’s hardly surprising when they do.
“Gulls search the sea shore for food, they search for food in the street. It’s not a growing problem.
“My advice would be exercise caution. Don’t leave food too exposed and visible to the seagulls. We are a coastal community and this is going to happen. The gulls have also become used to being among people, which makes these incidents more likely to happen.”
Earlier this month, Emily Vincent, 36, said her Yorkshire terrier Roo was attacked by gulls in her Newquay garden.
The pet was badly injured and was put down by a vet, she said.