Blog about animals
Selected the best cow in Germany
Fishing ban proposed near Rockall after rare scientific finds
Life and death on the riverbank
Baboon shot dead after escaping from Knowsley Safari Park
Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon
Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
The pitfalls of elderly dog insurance
Valley where Edward Carpenter, gay rights campaigner and socialist, walked
Green groups warn government of national parks hunting backlash
Demand for ivory destabilising central Africa
Dog walker found neighbour trampled by cows, inquest hears
Cat stands for election in Mexican city
I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea
Wader chick fever grips birds and spotters alike
Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks
The Dwyfor is surely one of the loveliest of Welsh rivers
New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae
How to beat the midges this summer
Controversial herring gull cull gets green light
Whaling's day in court is a sea change for conservation
Australia censures Japan for 'scientific' whaling
The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares
Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year
UK wildlife and nature hit hard by erratic weather
  How to survive a seagull attack
It's no joke, being attacked by a seagull. Pensioners have been hospitalised, blood gushing from cut heads. Others have been knocked to the ground, breaking bones. Small dogs have bled to death, children's lips been sliced open, and an elderly man died of a heart attack following a particularly vicious assault in his back garden (3). News that the Royal Mail has temporarily halted deliveries to an otherwise peaceful Cornish cul-de-sac because of the danger should come as no big surprise; it's happened before.

A diving herring gull is a missile: special attack talon on the heel, razor-sharp two-inch beak, 1.4-metre wingspan, more than a kilo of angry bird travelling at 65kph. No wonder there's blood. And there are more and more of them, at least in built-up areas: Britain's urban gull population thriving on takeaway scraps, open-topped litter bins and landfill sites to scavenge from, and wide ledges and flat rooftops to nest on is growing by 20% a year. Seagulls can live for up to 40 years, and their survival rate in cities is 95%.

They have, consequently, become less afraid of us. Often, we positively encourage them: leaving leftovers on tables, even feeding them (despite an abundance of notices, particularly in seaside towns, imploring us not to).The problem has become so acute that some towns have turned to deterrents such as hawks, netting, egg-oiling, high-frequency sound systems, rooftop spikes, electrified wires and even ersatz eggs (5). Killing or harming most seagulls is illegal without a permit: while urban populations are increasing, gull numbers overall are in decline.

Swooping gulls can be annoying at the best of times, but at this time of year they can be positively dangerous. From mid-May to late July, when fledglings have hatched but are not yet able to fly, adult gulls become highly territorial and protective of their young. If you get too close, they will use a variety of tactics to try to drive you away.

First comes the "gag call" a low, repeated warning call that essentially means: Go away. Next is the low pass, within a metre or two of the intruder's head. Then aerial operations commence. Phase one is bombardment: gulls target the perceived threat with droppings and vomit. Phase two is all-out attack usually a low, raking strike to the back of the head with talons extended.

Once things get to this stage, obviously, there's not a lot you can do beyond duck and try shield your head. Best advice? Keep your eyes and ears open, and learn what the gulls are trying to tell you. Our ignorance of their warnings is their greatest weapon.
'Wild' animals in travelling circuses benefit no one
The intoxicated world of the spotted flycatcher
Fishing quotas can be redistributed to favour smaller vessels high court
Madagascar battling worst locust plague since 1950s
A broody sparrow meets his match
Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt
The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat
Australian woman seriously injured during Spanish bull run
Spain's endangered Iberian lynx brought back from brink of extinction
One man and his sniffer dog help tackle Germany's hidden drug problem
The hotel that only takes dogs
T rex tooth found embedded in prey, restoring dinosaur's reputation
Bog cotton covers the summer Peak District moors in snow
Lifelike after death: the intricacies of a taxidermist's craft
The six-spot burnet moths complete their transformation
Research on animals in UK rises by 8% to exceed 4m procedures
Animal testing it's time to talk about it again
A pair of lithe animals are tumbling across the grass within feet of me
New to nature no 109: Anochetus hohenbergiae
England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights
Birdwatch: Corn bunting
Madrid declares war on plague of raccoon and parrot invaders
Snow leopards and wild yaks becoming 'fashion victims'
Horn seizure prompts rhinos warning
Threatened seabirds 'neglected' in plans for Scottish marine protected areas
Los Angeles campgrounds closed after plague-infected squirrel found
Only when I look down at the last second do I see it. I recoil instinctively
China's wine boom of little profit to giant pandas and small farmers
Let's not martyr the white-throated needletail to the anti-wind cause
Grasshopper breeder up for design award and educating western palates
Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes
Dog mauls boy at primary school in Northern Ireland
Our dog walks are punctuated by the corn bunting's jingling ringtone
End in sight for painful branding of semi-wild moorland ponies
New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
How to survive a seagull attack
A walk by the river triggers memories of a bygone age
Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows
Down among the grass stems, a ball of recently hatched orb-web spiderlings
Owen Paterson vows to rid England of bovine TB with badger culls
Gassing of badgers considered in plan to eradicate TB in cattle
Visitors to the Pamplona bull run have blood on their hands
Bats: they've never had it so good
These dew ponds have been on the Downs possibly since medieval times
Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot
Secret badger shoots pose 'a risk to public safety'
Cheshire police seize dog believed to have killed Pomeranian
Whale watching season is back - but how close is too close?
Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'
Morrissey donates Channel 4 payout to Peta campaign against foie gras