'It's like Pompeii' - Residents demand action over starling droppings

Paul Burton makes sure he is protected from starlings

Paul Burton makes sure he is protected from starlings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

As thousands of starlings wheel over parts of Great Yarmouth, people stand agog in wonder at the natural marvel.

But murmurations of starlings heading for their roosts in the town's Kent Square mean only one thing to its residents - it's time to clean the car and the outside of their homes again.  

Starlings are a widespread bird, being found in a variety of different habitats, however their numbe

Calls have been made for starlings to be moved away from Kent Square in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Sarah Kelman

While the problem has been on-going for about four years, residents say the issue of bird mess has escalated this year.

The Kent Square trees are home to an army of starlings

The Kent Square trees are home to an army of starlings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

They say they are fed up of their cars,  doorsteps, gardens, porches and walls and roads being splattered with starling deposits.

The borough council has taken some action, with a pest controller using a laser device early in the morning to try and stop the birds roosting in Kent Square and street cleaner being sent out.

Starlings in a murmuration above Great Yarmouth.

Starlings in a murmuration above Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Ieva Meksraityte

In an effort to highlight the ever-growing problem, Paul Burton has set up the Facebook group 'Gt Yarmouth Kent Square area residents against starling faeces'.

He says the droppings are akin to ash from the Mount Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii and that action is needed to protect residents' property and health.

Residents gathered to voice their frustrations over the starling droppings

Residents gathered to voice their frustrations over the starling droppings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Mr Burton, 54 and a general dealer, said: "It's like Pompeii. The problem has got worse this year.

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"Cars and homes are covered in mess. Part of the roads get slippy.

"Just look at it , the mess is everywhere. It has been a growing problem and it is the worst it has been so far this year."

The flock of starlings migrated from nearby St George's Park after the council cleared them out of the public space  in 2017.

On Wednesday Mr Burton organised for a group of residents to gather to highlight the problems and explain how the starlings impact on their lives.

This car will need a good clean thanks to the Kent Square starlings

This car will need a good clean thanks to the Kent Square starlings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Samantha Cowens, 39, has to cover her car every time she returns home from working for Amazon in Norwich to avoid the early morning bird mess deluge.

"It is just disgusting. It stinks. The council does not care. There are other places the birds could be moved to."

Mohsen and Clelia Momeni moved to Kent Square from Boston, Lincolnshire, four months ago.

They are having to clean their car every two to three days at a car wash and their freshly painted home is now spattered with bird mess.

Mrs Momeni, 42, said: "it's absolutely disgusting. If we had known about it, we would have reconsidered moving here."

Bins covered in starling droppings

Bins covered in starling droppings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A 40-year-old NHS nurse, who did not want to be named, said she had to spend 20 minutes every morning cleaning her car before she drove off to meet palliative care patients.

She said: "It has been going on for several years now. But it is getting worse.

"It feels like we are being forgotten by the council. It can't keep going on like this."

Clare Cooper, 48, and who lives in neighbouring St George's Street, had a simple message to the borough council.

She said: "They all should come here and look at what is happening and decide if they wanted to live here."

The story of homes and cars covered in mess was also echoed by residents Christine Singer, Chris Rudling, Kim Wilson and Barry Marsh.

A window falls victim to the flock of starlings

A window falls victim to the flock of starlings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

All of the residents agreed the birds need to be moved safely to another more rural location.

A statement from the council said: “We understand the nuisance of the mess caused by roosting birds in that area, and as a consequence of recent complaints we are now trialling a humane bird deterrent to stop the birds from roosting in that area at dusk, which will hopefully alleviate some of the issue.

“We will be monitoring their movements to see if this is a suitable longer-term solution for the town which won’t simply result in the birds moving onto another residential street in the area and have also organised additional cleansing of the pavements.”

Starling factfile

Starlings are one of the most common UK garden birds and are most abundant in southern England.

The RSPB estimates their breeding population is 1.8 million in number.

They are protected under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981 and are classified as a red list conservation species.

Starlings are causing a problem for Kent Square residents

Starlings are causing a problem for Kent Square residents - Credit: Jackie Hope

In winter, huge roosts can be found in plantations, reedbeds and city centres. 

Grouping together offers safety in numbers as predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a flock of thousands.

They also gather to keep warm at night and perform their wheeling stunts before they roost for the night.

The number of starlings in a roost can reach 100,000 and autumn roosts usually begin to form in November.

They mainly choose to roost in places which are sheltered from harsh weather and predators