A CHEEKY gull has been dropping in on the same neighbourhood for more than 30 years.

Fred the friendly herring gull, who is easily recognisable by a distinctive dent on his beak, is so at home in the gardens of Attree Drive, Brighton, that he will now happily be fed by hand and even mixes with cats and dogs.

Simon Dack, photographer at The Argus, said: “He’s a bit of a personality and very friendly – he will come and sit with you in the garden. He hops from one garden to the other.

“Our next-door-neighbour Jane has known him for more than 30 years. She started calling him Fred some time ago and the name stuck.”

Mr Dack has lived in Attree Drive, near Queens Park, for 27 years. Fred has been there the whole time, although the Dack family has only got to know him over the last ten years.

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham said: “Herring gulls are long lived and characterful. As opportunist foragers their curiosity often endears them to people, although their raucous voice isn't so popular with people who don't like the sound of the coast on their inland rooftops.

“Be more tolerant, I say, as a friend like Fred could be more reliable than some and only requiring the odd chip to keep on your side.”

Mr Dack said: “He is a cheeky gull - he’ll even come inside with you if you let him.”

With a webbed foot on the property ladder, Fred might seem quite the eligible bachelor, but sadly his life is lacking in romance.

Mr Dack said: “There used to be a Mrs Fred – I don’t know what happened to her.”

Carrie Temple, RSPB senior conservation officer, said: “Herring gulls are highly adaptive birds and they do return to the same nest sites year after year, so it would not be unknown for them to come back to a place where they are being fed regularly.

“The average age that herring gulls live to, according to the British Trust for Ornithology, is 12 years, but the longest lived herring gull, according to their records, was 30 years, 11 months and 15 days, so this is a bird at the edge of its natural lifespan.”