Pensioners in a tranquil residential park are arming themselves with water pistols and walking sticks – to fend off a pair of aggressive SWANS.
The two feathery fiends live on a river next to Hope Mill Park and had lived in harmony with residents for over a decade.
But residents say the swans are becoming increasingly territorial – and have taken to attacking cars, tearing up lawns and pecking at windows.
The huge birds harass cyclists, hiss at lorries and chase the postman on a daily basis – and one even attacked a toddler last year.
Now some elderly occupants of mobile homes on the site at Brimscombe near Stroud, Glos., are too scared to go outside for fear of being ambushed.
In a desperate attempt to restore calm, they have resorted to taking up arms – using water guns, garden hoses, walking sticks and brooms to keep the swans at bay.
Angela Helbrow, who lives right next to the river, said she is even frightened to step outside to hang her washing up – unless she has a hose to hand.
The 53-year-old said: “It’s an absolute nightmare. We moved here two years ago thinking it would be a nice place to retire but it has become a living hell.
“I’m scared to leave the house at times. I can’t even go outside to hang up the washing any more.
“I was doing my knitting last week and they came right up from the river to the patio doors and began pecking on the window.
“Now I have a garden hose outside to shoo them away.”
Angela, who lives with partner Colin Lake, 55, said the swans – whose genders are unknown – had become extremely territorial over the past couple of months.
“We’ve tried everything to avoid them and not disturb them,” she said.
“But they are just so vicious. They regularly harass cyclists, hiss at cars and even lorries. They chase people up the road and even attacked a toddler last year.
“The poor postman has to run the gauntlet every day. I once even saw an elderly lady fighting one off with her walking stick.
“People are getting chased every day now. We’re fed up.”
Hope Mill Residential Park is described as a ‘semi-retirement’ location for the over-50s which is “quiet and secluded” with a “real tranquil feel to it”.
But Barbara Morse, 66, who has lived at the park for six years, said daily incidents with the swans are shattering the peace.
She said: “There are lots of elderly residents here. It’s supposed to be a peaceful place to live but at the moment it’s anything but.
“They attacked my great granddaughter not too long ago. It scared her half to death.
“And the mess they leave on the ground is unbelievable. Our lawn is ruined.
“We keep a small water pistol by the door to shoo them off.
“I think the entire community would like to see these swans moved to a more suitable location. I’m sure we and the swans would benefit.”
But some residents say the swans are part of the area’s charm – and would be devastated if they were moved elsewhere.
Glynis Robinson said: “They are magnificent creatures who have more right than we do to live by the river.
“One of them gets a little protective but people only have to give them a bit of space and it leaves them alone.
“I have seen people with small children feeding them who are perfectly safe. It’s a nonsense to say they are aggressive.
“These swans are part of the delight of living by the river. Seeing them makes my day beautiful.”
Another resident, a 72-year-old woman who asked not to be named, said people are ridiculous for complaining about the swans.
She said: “I don’t know why people complain. They come and live by a river – what do they expect?
“They are lovely. They’re just like naughty children.”
Hope Mill Residential Park is made up of 21 mobile homes which sit on the banks of the River Frome, where the swans live.
A spokesman for the park admitted that the swans are very aggressive during mating season.
He said: “For ten months of the year, they are perfectly OK. It is just nature taking its course.
“What can you do? They are protected birds. There is nothing we can do.”
The mute swan is Britain’s largest bird and one of the heaviest flying birds in the world, with adults weighing as much as 15kg.
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