Under a nest: protected gulls roost on roof of Dorset police car

You may think they have plenty of conventional spots – cliffs, islands, seaside rooftops, chimney pots – to nest on.

But a pair of herring gulls have opted to construct their nest on the roof of a Dorset police car, taking it out of action because they are a protected species and cannot be disturbed.

In the sort of a scenario that might have appeared in Hot Fuzz, the Edgar Wright film featuring hapless West Country officers, Dorset police are having to stand by and wait for nature to take its course.

The force said that as soon as officers in Bridport spotted the nest, they knew it should not be disturbed, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

A spokesperson said: “We are now liaising with Natural England to explore what options are available to us in these unusual circumstances. As this is a spare vehicle, there are sufficient cars to meet our operational requirements and there will be no impact on our daily activities. However, we are keen to get the vehicle operational as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for the RSPB, a conservation charity, said the car was a surprising place for a nest, but was confident it would be safe under police protection.

The spokesperson added: “Herring gulls are on the red list of highest conservation concern and, like many seabirds, face a range of threats. Fortunately, it won’t be long before the eggs hatch – and the young are away not long after hatching.”

A local resident said: “Clearly the police haven’t had to use the car for a while as it must have taken the gulls some time to build a nest. Apparently they have been there for a few days but I haven’t seen any signs of eggs yet.”

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The RSPCA said: “Birds are at their most vulnerable when nesting. Any disturbance could kill or injure wild birds and their young – or cause parent birds to abandon their nest, eggs and young.

“Nests can’t be moved or destroyed while they’re being built or still in use – apart from under certain exceptions to allow the control of certain birds for specific reasons under licence.”