Cardiff’s seagulls are getting even more brazen – after one snatched a diner’s chicken straight off his plate.
The city’s gulls have been accused of ripping up bin bags and even blamed for ruining businesses with their droppings.
Now they’re swooping to new lows and vying with al fresco diners for their food.
PhD student Gethin While was enjoying an outdoor lunch at Nando’s in Mermaid Quay when the nuisance bird swiped his meal.
Mr While, 47, of Cardiff Bay, said: “My friend and I had half a chicken each.
“I’d eaten half of my honey and peri-peri chicken and went to drink some wine when an adult seagull grabbed the chicken from my plate.
“I just watched it fly off with the chicken in its talons. The Cardiff seagulls must have very sophisticated taste – it didn’t drop it!
“The staff at the restaurant seemed very used to it.
“They offered me another meal and they took my friend’s before they came back for hers.”
Mr While said measures needed to be taken to control the city’s population, which is second only to Aberdeen’s in Britain.
However, the wild birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
“There has got to be some kind of control. They have become aggressive because the opportunities are there,” said Mr While
“They are predators who will eat anything, even other birds.
“They are getting rid of the smaller birds that are common to this area.
“It’s like saying that we shouldn’t get rid of ground rats just because they are an endangered species in China.
“They are starting to impinge on our quality of life.”
Seagull expert Peter Rock said Cardiff was attractive to gulls because it had ample flat-roof buildings on which to nest.
Mr Rock, who has carried out research on seagulls in Cardiff for much of the past decade, said: “Cardiff is a city with a lot of very suitable rooftops and there is plenty of food to be had. Seagulls never turn down a free lunch.
“Cardiff has always had a large seagull population; the city is very safe for the gulls and their offspring.”
His research shows the seagull population has increased by 15.2% in the past five years, with 3,339 nesting pairs. This does not include lone seagulls that do not breed for whatever reason.
He added: “Cardiff is definitely almost in the Premier League when it comes to its seagull population.”
A Cardiff council spokeswoman said the authority was ready to consult with Mermaid Quay’s businesses to manage breeding.
She said: “There are actually only a few gulls nesting in Mermaid Quay but they often travel significant distances to feed and are in the area for food.
“The council has taken measures to reduce the problem, including installing gull-proof bins and advising food premises to manage their waste effectively.
“Premises can also net or spike their buildings to prevent birds nesting or roosting as well as using parasols at tables in areas where gulls are a problem to distract them.”
Last year, shop owner Sara Simmonds said seagulls were wrecking her trade by fouling on Frederick Street, near Queen Street.