An adjunct to our earlier story about the RNLI's Poole headquarters...
An adjunct to our earlier story about the RNLI's Poole headquarters can be found at Eastbourne's lifeboat station, where the Coxswain had a similar problem - not with the building, but the actual lifeboat.
"Eastbourne's Mersey class lifeboat lies afloat in the outer harbour, ready for immediate launch at any hour. However, to local gulls, it is no more than a convenient perch, and their fouling caused us serious problems" says the coxswain. "It would take us up to an hour each morning to clean the boat. Without that we had the damage to the boat to consider (Gull faeces do permanent damage to the finish and fittings) and the health and safety issues of salmonella, etc. Not to mention the problem of making the decks slippery - something you don't want when you're on a shout"
The coxswain had heard of Scarecrow from Eastbourne Marina, but was somewhat sceptical until he had witnessed a demonstration. Now he has a system installed, and was happy to demonstrate it to me when I visited recently. With something of the glee to be seen when someone is showing you a new toy, he pointed out that the area of the buoys between which his vessel was normally moored was populated by five gulls. (The lifeboat was currently in the lock at the Marina due to tidal conditions). Utilising the override switch, he then set off the calls.
All five birds instantly turned towards the source of the sound. Seeing nothing obvious, over the next 90 seconds they then took off one at a time to investigate. Eventually, finding nothing but obviously somewhat ruffled, they decided to move off to calmer waters.
It's obviously a pretty impressive system and it's done the job for Eastbourne Lifeboat Station, so they can concentrate on doing their job - for which we can all be thankful.