Landfill - Open All Hours Monday 08 January 2007
Visitors to the Scarecrow stand at CIWMs Conference and Exhibition this summer revealed an interesting and peculiar fact: that bird control is very often undertaken only during landfill operating hours. One representative, for example, said that a contractor came on site between 9am and 3pm.It is simply illogical to operate like this, however, because birds do not operate to such time limits.
It also poses a basic question: what is the purpose of bird control at a landfill site taking food waste? Is it to deny access to a prime food source for seagulls and other scavenging birds? Is it only to make a token effort to satisfy local complainants?
The importance of landfill sites to seagulls is well reported and it is postulated that landfills were one of the primary reasons why wintering seagulls in the UK have increased inland through the last century. We provide an adequate food source for many hundreds of thousands of these scavengers and the quality is so good that many have deserted the traditional wintering grounds of West Africa and The Mediterranean.Outside the breeding season, usually April to June, gulls have few requirements; a safe communal roost (inland our drinking water reservoirs have provided the bulk of these) and food, the easier to obtain the better.
At landfills we even spread the waste out for them so they dont have to search for the food. Gulls are quite prepared to travel to meet these requirements and daily commuting distances of 50km are not unusual. Also, being early risers they are often en route to the feeding site before it is light enough for us to see them. At the end of the day, they arrive back at their roost site after sunset, sometimes long after dark.
Early dispersal trials and more recent studies demonstrated that, as on airports, when correctly applied the basic dispersal methods could effectively close a landfill to gulls. All these trials showed that the bird control action was necessary during bird hours rather than site operating hours to be effective.
If dispersal action is limited to scaring between nine and five, the birds simply change their feeding pattern to early morning and evening, and any problems they create are unaffected by the control activity.As the title suggests, if you are going to undertake bird control on your landfill, you will only succeed by doing it correctly, and a major element is being on site throughout the time that the birds would be there. Generally this can be regarded as from first light to shortly before last light, dependent upon the distance to the roost. During autumn and early winter this will be longer than site operating hours.