Hawk keeps tennis championships at Wimbledon pigeon free. Balls find a new use

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Wayne Davis and his Harris hawk have certainly hit the headlines this year for their pigeon prevention work at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon.

It will come as no surprise to professional pest controllers that a Harris hawk is used to keep the pigeons, and other uninvited birds, at bay on the hallowed tennis courts at Wimbledon.

Always a popular sight with the general public, this year the media coverage of their activities has really taken-off.

The hawk, called Rufus, belongs to Wayne Davis of Northampton-based Avian Control Systems.

Wayne established his company in 1898 and undertakes the usual round of avian pest control activities – airports, landfill sites and urban environments.

With Westminster Abbey being another of his more high profile clients.


 Wimbledon courts The sort of view Rufus may get ‘at work’

However, it is his work at Wimbledon that has caught the media’s attention. Having had the contract for over ten years, this time around the coverage received has reached new heights. Wayne and Rufus have not only appeared in most of the national press – for example The Daily Mail (click here to view) but also TV appearances on Blue Peter, Business Breakfast and BBC News .

To watch Wayne’s interview on BBC News click here.

This year Wimbledon has another pest related activity. Each year the club receives endless requests for the tennis balls used in the Championships – often they get sold for charity.


However one request this caught their eye – to create nests for house mice!

A batch of yellow balls specially commissioned for the 125th Championships, and fresh from use this fortnight, has been sent from SW19 to a visitor attraction near Newby Bridge in the Lake District in the UK to create unique nests for its native house mice. The balls have undergone a little conversion work – peppered with small holes, so the mice can squeeze inside and explore a new territory – and they are now cozy homes and play areas for the rodents.

Zorbing (the recreation of rolling downhill in an orb) and spinning are the two most popular mouse sports. Wimbledon”s balls therefore provide the mice with lots of challenges and entertainment, though whether they stage a seeded competition is not yet discernible to an untrained eye. The balls are such a smash hit that the experts at Lakes Aquarium are hopeful that the snug new homes might encourage the mice to add to their families and introduce a few babies to the group.

“The All England Lawn Tennis Club does all it can to re-use balls left on its hands at the end of Wimbledon fortnight, with many being sold for charity,” said a Club spokesman. “But most requests are related to much more mundane future uses than that suggested by Lakes Aquarium. We could hardly refuse to send some, once we heard that this was a re-housing project.”

Cathy Burrows, Lakes Aquarium”s marketing manager, says: “The first visitors to see the new homes designed for the brown mice are intrigued by the story behind them and the display is certainly creating a talking point. Everyone wants to know which match the balls were used in, but we can”t help there, though some have suggested they were probably handled by Thomouse Berdych or Andy Scurry!”

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