A traumatised toddler was left with a huge purple bruise on her ear after she was viciously attacked by a seagull which tried to steal her Greggs pasty.
One-year-old Freya Yhia-Raine had just begun tucking into the tasty treat when the seagull dived into her pushchair and tried to take the pastry out of her mouth.
Mum Cathryn Raine, 23, said the tot was determined to hold on to the cheese pasty and the ensuing tussle left her with a large painful bruise covering her left ear.
Now the youngster, who needed a doctors’ visit after the attack, has been left terrified of birds and too scared to eat outside – while Cathryn claims she had to endure a visit from social services because of the injury.
Cathryn, from South Shields, said: “We had a seagull scuffle. It just swooped down out of nowhere and dived into the pram.
“I’d got her a cheese pasty from Greggs and was pushing her in her stroller and this seagull tried to take the food out of her mouth while she was eating it.
“Freya has no sense of fear. She wouldn’t let her food go. I tried to grab it off her so I could throw it for the seagull but she was holding onto it for dear life.
“She had it half in her mouth and the seagull was trying to pull it out of her mouth.
“It was flapping its wings and hitting her, so I’m not sure whether it was the wings or its beak that caused the bruising.
“At first I think she thought it was funny but then its wings started hitting her and she started to scream.
“She was petrified. People started to come over to see what was going on.
“It was horrible. She wouldn’t stop crying.
“I was just thinking I needed to get the pasty off her and get the bird way before it caused some real damage.
“The whole thing lasted about 15 seconds but it felt like ages.
“Finally I managed to yank the pasty away and the bird followed it. It wasn’t scared of people at all, it just wanted the pasty.”
Full-time mum Cathryn, who lives with Freya’s dad Lewis Yhia, 24, said she took Freya, who will be two next month, to her grandma’s house to try and calm her down when she noticed the bruise and took her straight to the doctor fearing she would need a tetanus jab.
Cathryn said: “I was so worried she’d have to have an injection but thankfully she didn’t.
“Because it was such a bad bruise on her left ear the doctors had to call social services who came to see me the next day.
“They came and said it was the seagull that had caused the injury but couldn’t determine if it was caused by its beak or wing.
“The bruise was purple for about three or four days and took a week and half before it went away completely.
“Now she won’t eat any food outside at all and she’s terrified of birds – even pigeons. I don’t think she’ll be going near them anytime soon.
“It could have been a lot worse. I dread to think what could have happened if it had been a baby in the pram.
“She was such a bubbly, confident little girl with no fear before this but it’s really knocked her.”
Cathryn, who was hit herself by the seagull’s wings, said there’s a real problem with seagulls in her area.
She said: “I’ve known a few people who’ve gone to hospital after being pecked by a seagull because it’s drawn blood.
“You can’t do anything about them. I live close to the seafront and it’s a big issue. They’re really bold and will take anything. They’re not bothered.”