Swans take over North Bersted estate

One of the swans makes itself at home in Ashbee Gardens
One of the swans makes itself at home in Ashbee Gardens
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Swans have taken over part of a new North Bersted housing estate.

The male and female birds and their four cygnets have claimed ownership of Ashbee Gardens and Ruskin Avenue.

Their aggressive presence has led to some residents becoming trapped in their homes on the Bersted Park estate on occasions and fearful of their children being injured.

Poppy Denham, of Ashbee Gardens, said: “The swans have become far too used to being around people and just wandering around the estate as they please.

“I’ve had to get in the passenger side of my car the other day and climb over to the driver’s side as the swans had surrounded it.

“It is only a matter of time before someone, God forbid it’s a child, gets hurt by one of these swans.

“They are extremely aggressive and intimidating to say the least.

“The cygnets are getting bigger by the day, which is a rather scary thought if they grow to be as large as their parents.”

Faeces

Her and her neighbours were in danger of being left prisoners in their homes and surrounded by swans’ faeces, she said.

Miss Denham, 24, who has twins aged two-and-a-half, said the family of swans settled on to the stream near Ashbee Gardens and were first seen around June 5 and 6.

The housing has been recently built as part of the site six development.

Miss Ashbee moved in to her house on an intermediate rent scheme with Southern Housing Group. She claimed many phone calls had been made to the housing association to send a letter to its tenants asking them not to feed the swans.

This had started soon after they were first seen and had encouraged them to wander the streets. But the letter was not received until Tuesday last week.

This delay had allowed the problem to escalate to the extent the swans’ excrement covered pavements, driveways, grass verges and roads.

“Not only does this look disgusting,” she said. “But children are playing around it outside, it’s being trodden in and walked through houses.”

She has contacted environmental health officers but they say they can do nothing to help because the site is not officially registered yet.

Advice

The RSPB and RSPCA can also offer no help until the swans are injured or become a nuisance on a main road.

Emma Harden, the resident services officer at Southern Housing Group, said it wrote to all its residents on Bersted Park just over a week after it became aware of the swans on July 3.

“We have been advised by wildlife experts that the only effective action is to immediately stop feeding the birds. Once the easily available food source is removed, the birds will gradually return to their natural habitat around the pond.

“The property manager will be writing to all residents again this week to reiterate this and to advise them to exercise caution when near the swans as they will defend their cygnets,” she said.

The swans could not be removed because they were a protected species and fencing would only have a limited effect.

Specialist cleaners were brought in yesterday to remove the swans’ excrement, she added.