A pair of seagulls have abandoned the high life to set up home at the bottom of a garden.

The seabirds, which usually choose the highest point they can find to set up home, have chosen a spot on the grass in Rosemary Howat’s Hove garden to start their family.

Seagull expert Tim McKenzie said the case was extremely unusual and he had never heard of seagulls choosing to build their nest on the ground before.

Now conservationists are considering installing an electric fence around the nest to protect the endangered birds.

The gulls had been visiting the garden for several days when they started building a nest on the ground.

Then on Monday the female laid an egg. The love birds are nowfiercely guarding their precious charge.

Mrs Howat, of Livingstone Road, said: “The seagull had been coming and going for a while, but then on Monday morning I noticed she had laid the egg right on the ground and made her nest there.

“I have been trying not to get too close because they will probably be quite territorial. Both of them have been guarding it quite fiercely.”

Keen to keep her new feathered friends happy, Mrs Howat has been feeding them pieces of bread and fish and said even the family’s pet has been keeping clear.

She said: “I was worried that my cat would try and go for them, but it’s been keeping well out of their way.”

Mrs Howat’s visitor is a herring gull, but all kinds of seagulls are protected species meaning the bird, their eggs and nests need looking after.

Mr McKenzie, of the National Gull Rescue and Protection charity, said: “This must be a first.

“I have never heard of a gull making its nest on the ground before – it’s unheard of.

“The worry is as soon as it hatches a fox or a cat will help themselves.

“I cannot think of any reason why a gull would do this.

“We may have to look at putting an electric fence around it to keep them away.

“Moving the nest could result in a £5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.”