Hawks A Mercy

I recently watched a display of falconry at a fete in Stiffkey in Norfolk. Amazing to watch these marvellous birds dive-bombing the rope thing swung by their handlers. It probably has a technical name.

Apparently it costs £60,000 a year to have a hawk fly four hours a day in Trafalgar Square so as to deter the pigeons. They have killed 130 pigeons so far this year, making the cost per kill around £2700. That is much more than the £90 per bird paid by those who shot the grouse we paid £10 for on Saturday. I don’t quite get the economics of that, but never mind.

Several Londoners have pointed out that for the same money we could have Boris Johnson doing a passable imitation of a scarecrow, or Livingstone flapping and squawking about, either of which might have the same, or greater, deterrent effect.

I can’t see why the hawks need handlers. Why not let them take up permanent residence in the Square, which self-evidently provides them with a ready food supply. Of course, they might prove as antisocial as the seagulls around Falmouth, one of which once expertly hit me in the back of the head with a wing so as to filch my icecream. But perhaps hawks have better manners?

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens