A Bristol security guard was hospitalised after being dive-bombed by a gull while riding his bike. Allan Plaister told the Bristol Post that he has spent a spell on crutches since the bird’s attack left him sprawled in the road.
Plaister described the incident as being ‘something straight out of a Hitchcock film.’
"It was absolutely massive. When you get up close to a bird coming at you like that, it is absolutely humungous.
"I was riding my mountain bike home from a day shift at the Harbourside, about 6.35pm. I was outside Turtle Bay restaurant in the city centre. I was riding along and this bird just flew down and dived onto my chest. It took me off my bike and I was left sprawling in the road."
A group nearby rushed to help him. One, who was medically trained, checked him for breaks, but he had suffered only severe bruising. After phoning an ambulance, paramedics took him to Accident and Emergency at Bristol Royal Infirmary where he remained for three hours.
Plaister says the incident has left him nervous of birds and seagulls in particular. "There was no reason for it,” he said.
The Bristol Post had earlier reported that Simon Prentis of the Gull Awareness Group has launched a petition for officials to fund research into what he says is a major problem. The current management programme is aimed at reducing the gull population by replacing their eggs with substitutes, but a spokesman said the council were looking into alternatives.
"There are no quick fixes to the gull issue and there are limitations to what action we can take due to licence conditions, but Bristol City Council is one of the few local authorities taking such action.
"We have £200,000 available for a wider gull programme, which explores the use of other techniques, such as netting and using hawks and falcons, but we will only use this funding for the most cost-effective and successful methods."
It is not unheard of for birds to attack cyclists, but it tends to be when they are protecting recently-hatched chicks.
Last month, cyclists were warned to avoid a road in Northern Ireland after a nesting buzzard attacked two men. The bird landed on one man’s helmet, digging in its talons. The other man said he was attacked on two separate occasions and subsequently steered clear of the area.
In Australia, magpies are a common problem for cyclists. This 2014 video captures a fairly typical attack in which the bird swoops in from behind. Attacks begin when the birds’ eggs hatch then increase in frequency and severity as the chicks grow, before tailing off when the chicks leave the nest.