Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beware the pheasant!

As soon as I saw these pictures, I wanted to share them so they would make you laugh like they did me! This 72-year-old retiree from Branscombe, West Devon, U.K., is under siege from a rogue pheasant. John Tucker wears gloves, dons long johns, and carries a walking stick to protect himself from beak and claws of the bird, which lives in a field near his summer home. If he and his wife Carol, 64, want to sit in the garden, he lures "Yobbo" into the shed and locks him in. The pheasant has been known to run inside the house when the door is open - and Tucker has snuck out the back window rather than attract its attention as it waits by the front door. "Every time I get in my car he comes after me down the road and I have to accelerate to get away. My wife can't sit in the garden without him pestering her. It was quite funny to start with, but now its extremely irritating," he complains. "I know a a thing or two about birds. But I've never been stalked by one before....People ask why don't I make him into a pie. The other day I thought, 'I could just ring your neck'. But as he looked at me with his brown eyes I knew I couldn't ever do it." Of course, I was also compelled to find out if pheasants are notoriously bad-tempered birds. Much of the evidence is anecdotal. A postal carrier making deliveries to Llechwedd, Wales, complained in 2006 of repeated attacks by a "Jekyll and Hyde" pheasant. And since February 2010, a "crackpot" pheasant has been lying in wait for residents of Newsham, North Yorkshire, and chasing children after they disembark from their school bus. Tucker, who just happens to be an ornithologist, chalks up his bird's bad behavior to hormones during the mating season or territorial instinct. Among the many varieties, it is the Reeve's Pheasant that is known to be aggressive toward humans. It is this nonnative species that began attacking the villagers of Bishopstone, Wiltshire, in 2005. The vicious bird has drawn blood, including that of Monica Vince, 57, who paints a pretty scary picture: "I used to walk my dog along a path up there, but then the pheasant started stalking me. For several days he would walk alongside, watching me from the other side of a fence. Then one day the pheasant came through the fence and stood in front of me, confronting me. I stepped to my left to get past and he stepped the same way. Then I moved to my right and he moved the same way. I thought, ‘This is silly, it’s just a pheasant.’ But then he flew at my head and pecked me on the head and raked my nose. I screamed and put my hands up to my face and he raked me with his claws. He dropped back to the ground and looked at me as if to say, ‘I won that round.’ He looked pretty proud of himself. I was so shocked. I picked up my hat, which the bird had knocked off, and ran past it and through a gate. I was worried that it might attack my dog next. When I got home, my hair was all matted with blood and it was really painful.”

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