Saturday, August 08, 2015

Scarecrows and Victorian values

click photo to enlarge
Scarecrows are a common sight in Lincolnshire, particularly on the Fens where vegetables are grown. Predation by wood pigeons is quite significant, and farmers have turned to methods old and new to keep the birds off the crops. Researchers tell us that the most common method, propane-powered bird scaring "gunshots" - a single report shortly followed by two more - is actually the most effective. However, a wide variety of other devices are used.

Hawk kites flying from a cord at the top of a tall pole are frequently seen and seem to be ineffective. Cut up plastic bags fixed to the top of softwood stakes to make flags that fill a field and crackle in the wind are also popular and equally useless. Spinning, shiny propellers or balls with faces appear to be less common that a few years ago, perhaps an indication that they don't work either. The most annoying bird scarer, and mercifully only infrequently seen, is a day-glo scarecrow that periodically inflates and stands up to the accompaniment of flashing lights and a siren. As far as I can see that device is about as ineffective as the traditional scarecrow of the type seen in today's photograph.

Given our government's fixation with market economics and its desire to push youth and the unemployed into a job, any job, no matter how low paid or worthwhile the work is, it can only be a matter of time before we see the return of the Victorian method of bird scaring. So look out for boys walking the fields, throwing stones at the crows and pigeons, in exchange for their daily pittance.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 90mm (180mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0
Image Stabilisation: On