A robotic peregrine falcon has been flown in to Teignmouth seafront to tackle the pollution caused by birds fouling the water.

RoboBird at Teignmouth
RoboBird patrols Teignmouth seafront (Jo Bowery)

The Environment Agency and Teignbridge District Council is testing RoboBird in a bid to reduce water pollution. Birds nesting under the pier have been contaminating the sea and beach with their droppings.

Although ‘rainfall, wind, waves and tide can influence bathing water quality, wildfowl can impact it too,’ the Environment Agency said.

The robotic predator can swivel its head, flap its wings and shriek to scare off gulls and other birds. It will be perched on a trolley on Teignmouth Promenade throughout the bathing water season.

Jonathan Harvey, an Environment Agency environmental monitoring officer, said: ‘We’ll gauge the effectiveness of the RoboBird through water quality sampling around the pier.’

The Environment Agency is also looking at ‘more conventional approaches’ to ensuring the quality of bathing water at Teignmouth including ‘investigations into drainage systems and potential misconnections’.

Teignbridge Council has done bird counts around the bathing water sampling point, before and after the RoboBird’s deployment so it can measure its impact on wildfowl populations.

RoboBird doesn’t yet have a name and the Environment Agency is asking for suggestions using the hashtag #EArobobird.

The Environment Agency’s bathing water season began last week and sampling of bathing waters will be carried out regularly until the end of September.

Up to date information on bathing water quality is available at the Swimfo website.

Last year, 96% of bathing waters in England met minimum standards and 90% of bathing waters in England were rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, up from 76% in 2010, despite the classification standards becoming stricter in 2015, the Environment Agency said.

However, more than 100 protesters took to Teignmouth beach to complain about sewage pollution. So far this year ‘we have already seen 34 alerts in Holcombe (just along the beach from Teignmouth), with many reports of sickness,’ said protest organiser and hub leader for Teignmouth Healthscape CIC Peta Howell.

Previously, electronic bird scarers have been used near Teignmouth Pier to deter birds and reduce water pollution.

Locals hope RoboBird will also reduce incidences of seagulls stealing ice creams and chips in the area.