The full impact was only revealed at dawn as locals and Council clear-up teams surveyed the scene. Smoke still billowed from looted and burnt-out takeaways, upturned litter-bins lay strewn across The Esplanade and discarded walking sticks littered the streets.
Floating gently in the breeze, thousands of bird feathers, poetic testimony to the anger and hatred that erupted when flocks of angry Seagulls gathered near Ryde Pier. The mood soon turned ugly and the nightmare began.
Gulls dive-bombed terrified visitors, pecking indiscriminately. Then the bombing started. Visitors and locals alike dived for cover as the droppings rained down. In scenes reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcocks 1963 Horror film, The Birds, The Gulls spared no one. Women, children, OAP’s; they didn’t care. One witness told The Candy Press of a particularly harrowing scene that took place outside the KFC on Union Street.
“One poor girl had her new hair-do and outfit ruined by the droppings. Tears and mascara flowed down her cheeks. Her boyfriend had one of the Seagulls cornered and was lashing out, but the girl was trying desperately to pull him away and screaming ‘leave it Wayne, leave it, he ain’t worth it!’
The trigger for the violence was a hit-and-run incident the day before which left two Gulls dead and broke the wing of another. CCTV images released by Police clearly show a man racing along Union Street on his Mobility Scooter at 6.12pm and striking the three birds as they enjoyed a discarded fish n’ chip supper by the roadside. The driver stopped and walked back to the birds and prodded them with his crutch, before returning to his scooter and driving off.
Questions are also being asked as to why Island Police failed to deal with the trouble, it being over 40 minutes before the first officer arrived. The Candy Press has learned that most of the Island Bobbies were busy dealing with an unattended lunchbox found at a bus stop in Ventnor. The box was destroyed in a controlled explosion, but the incident led to significant delays in help arriving. Many believe the lunchbox was planted deliberately by Gull gang leaders as a diversion.
In the end, the rioters were only dispersed when the quick thinking officer, also a keen bird-watcher, adopted the ‘scarecrow’ stance and the birds flew off.
Police have issued a description of the man in the CCTV pictures. He is described as a white male, early seventies, and called Colin Fairbanks of 23 Mulberry Road, Shanklin.