Say the word ‘dove’ and you think soft, white, pretty, coo-coo, love, weddings and all that stuff. Not to mention a gentle flutter of wings.
What you don’t think is flaming nuisance, poo all over the place, incessant loud cooing and the irritating and surprisingly loud flapping-slapping of wings.
Here at Hill Towers we are suffering a plague of doves, not unlike an infestation of rodents.
Our pesky doves, collared doves to be precise, are the winged version of mice that never, ever leave you alone. We’ve encountered mice in the past which would turn their noses up at cheese and chocolate and keep coming back in the hope we’d put out bait of an altogether more epicurean nature.
The doves are similarly demanding. I almost said ‘discerning’ but there is nothing like that about these maddening birds which won’t flap off and leave us alone.
We look out to the garden to admire the signs of spring and what do we see but pairs of doves lolloping about all dopey and distracted like languid teenagers newly in love, which I suppose is what they are.
They coo and preen each other, hop about on the garden table, indulge in silly lovestruck dances and glances, and all the while they exhibit an unfortunate disdain for the niceties of potty training. Not a nappy between them, as is only too evident.
Last week, one of these love-struck couples decided it was time to put down a different kind of deposit. They plonked a couple of twigs on to the bracket of our satellite dish without so much as a by your leave. They hadn’t even sought planning permission for their new home. As their nearest neighbours we registered our objections, mostly by flapping our arms and also, from time to time, by Geoff wielding a yard broom in their direction as they assumed ownership of the dish.
Of course, we are happy for anything to nest in our garden but we draw the line at a pair of incontinent oafs who want to reside on the wall of the house, creating a poo-spattered runway over the car and the front doorstep.
Our crude tactics eventually worked. The lovey-doveys decamped and took their twigs to a neighbour’s satellite dish where they quickly established a very des res, we were relieved to see.
We felt smug. No longer our problem. Job done, the war over, we could relax until next nesting season’s call to arms.
We were wrong. Another pair appeared, twigs in beaks, to build their love nest in exactly the same place. It seemed an impossibility to create anything big enough to hold Mrs Dove and, in due course, her eggs, yet small enough to balance on a single metal strut less than 2cm in width.
Geoff and I flapped about again, but to little avail. We were obviously dealing with a canny pair here, a couple of doves wise to the ways of weird humans.
We became weirder in our effort to outwit them. We cut strips of cooking foil and hung them from the strut, Geoff gamely balancing on a ladder to do the fixing and me holding on to him and it, pointlessly but in solidarity.
Job done, again. We retreated indoors to watch what might happen next. Affronted, Mr and Mrs Dove flew to the nearest roof and stared at their building site. Then they stared some more. And then they flapped away to try their luck elsewhere.
The triumph was ours. We had finally foiled two bird-brained doves. We hope.