Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Zen and the Art of Bird Scaring

Ooops major faux pas some of you will have noticed I posted the wrong story. That was quickly deleted and the proper one put in it's place. Sorry for that I was tired this morning. No really I was tired. Almost as tired as my daughter Gemmalah who is so tired she's hallucinating about bunny Rabbits doing the can can on the bonnet of a car, and she's only been at university three weeks. So here it is the Tuesday story.........

During my days at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, part of my job was to scare birds off airfields, we would have to train the fire staff at major airports on how to scare birds off the runways. One day we were at Luton Airport talking to the fire service guys there, demonstrating the “standing on the bonnet of the landrover trick” slowly waving our arms up and down. Thus mimicking the wing beat of a bird of prey. This scares the bejeezus out of the little birds and they all bugger off. The bigger birds take no notice so we have different tricks for them. We have bird scaring tapes. These we made by capturing the birds holding them upside down by their feet and gently giving them a little shake. I must tell you now before any retribution from any animal welfare groups, that no birds were harmed in the making of this story (or the tapes). Anyway after giving the birds a little shake whilst holding them upside down they would inevitably squawk a bit, this would be their distress call. We recorded this on a Nagra reel to reel tape recorder, the one you see Bill Oddie carrying around with him. The recording would then be put onto C2 Loop tapes. At the airfields and airports we’d play back the tapes and the birds would hear the distress call and they’d fly off. Thus making safe the runways for the jets to take off and land. Easy peasy.
However some of the buggers got used to it, or were just plain stupid or deaf. Or all three so we had to back it up with firing off a thunderflash from a hand pistol. Great fun. So we’re at Luton Airport doing this demo and we were in our Landrover on the skirt of the runway, armed with bird scaring tape, Loud speaker stuck out of the sunroof, a two way radio and a very pistol.
“Bird one. Bird one This is the tower. Over.”
“Bird one here, over.”
“Bird one, you have thirty seconds on main runway, over.”
“Roger, thirty seconds, we’re on our way. Out.”
Slamming the Landrover into gear we sped off down the main runway, one hundred watts of power coming from the loud speaker on the roof, “squawk, squawk, squawk”, leaning out the side window we shot the thunderflash up into the air. Dooofffff “Squawk Squawk Squawk.”
We were still tearing down the runway leaning forward looking out the front windscreen for the thunderflash, we couldn’t see it, where had it gone?
All off a suddenly it landed on the bonnet of the Landrover with an almighty bang and flash, SHIT!!!!
“Mayday Mayday, we’ve been hit. We’re going down.” The Landrover was swerving all over the place with the sudden shock off being blasted by the noise and light, I could hardly see a thing. I was blinded. The radio crackled.
“Bird One. Bird One Will you stop fucking about and get off the runway? Over”
We pulled off back to the skirt, a flock of black headed gulls, settled back down on the runway pissing themselves with laughter.
“Well that went well I thought.”

iPod now playing - All along the watchtower by Jimi Hendrix


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