HARD TO SWALLOW: Pialba Place centre manager Rachel Mackey shows the notice advising shoppers the gate to the underground car park will close three hours earlier each day as part of the centre's swallow lock-out.
HARD TO SWALLOW: Pialba Place centre manager Rachel Mackey shows the notice advising shoppers the gate to the underground car park will close three hours earlier each day as part of the centre's swallow lock-out. Alistair Brightman

Not-so-welcome swallows cause havoc in Bay car park

THOUSANDS of not-so-welcome swallows have been ruffling the feathers of staff at Pialba Place Shopping Centre for the past few years.

But their days of flying into the underground car park and making 9km of overhead pipes their home, has come to an end.

At this time every year, centre manager Rachel Mackey said about 3000 of the migratory birds would come back to the car park on dusk to roost, leaving behind a mass of bird droppings.

She said the only solution to keep the birds out, without harming them, was to close the security gate at 5pm instead of 8pm and cover all small entries in the wall of the car park with fly screen mesh.

"It's quite an issue for us to clean up that kind of a mess," Ms Mackey said.

"That underground car park is used by lots of families so we try and keep it as clean as we can.

"By September we would probably have 3000 birds in that under-cover car park, and you can imagine the mess they create

"Not to mention ... when you drive out of the car park they follow you out ... it's like driving out of the Batcave," she laughed.

Ms Mackey said the strategy had been working a treat for the past two weeks with only a few welcome swallows sneaking in early.

But, she said, shoppers could still witness thousands of birds swarming outside the closed gate at about 5.15pm.

"It's amazing ... they swarm around the entry and it gets to the point where they have to make the decision to either keep swarming or to go off and find somewhere to roost for the night.

"It will get later and later as the year progresses."

Ms Mackey said the majority of shoppers and retailers had been understanding of the early gate closure.

"I know it's an inconvenience but they have really been on board to try and resolve this problem before it really gets out of hand.

"By the summer time it shouldn't inconvenience anyone too much.

"We just want to break the habit of these birds roosting and nesting in that underground car park.

"It is working brilliantly."

Each day, no entry to the car park is allowed from 4pm. The gate will close at 5pm.