Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Helicopter Rant

This is less a blog post and more a furious out pouring. Someone local to me has recently acquired a new toy. Unfortunately, it isn't a football or a bike or even a pogo stick. No, it is a fully functioning helicopter. Not the model type, but an actual, sit in and fly helicopter. Fair enough I suppose. If you want to zoom about in a helicopter that's your business. But I'm fairly certain there are rules about how you fly the effing thing. And buzzing over my estate low enough that I can see your stupid, grinning face is probably illegal, you arse.

Chickens are sensitive creatures. Like all birds, they are prone to stress. They learn to adapt to new sounds and objects in their immediate area, but it takes time and constant exposure. A helicopter suddenly whizzing by at ear splitting volume is not something you can acclimatise them to. This morning the helicopter did a fly by for the second time since the weekend, and it caused chaos. The hens were all happily free ranging when we began to hear the tell tale wasp hum. Initially they froze, then went tall and skinny looking for the threat. I rushed to get corn to try and get them undercover before it appeared overhead, but was too slow. It seems to burst out of nowhere, loud and ugly, before disappearing again. The girls panicked, big time. From their perspective, a big loud predator had just appeared over the garden.

All six current residents of the Palace hot footed it in to the coop. The serama bolted for the garage in their roadrunner way. But poor Flo and Winnie didn't know what to do with themselves. They ran about in a panic, running laps around the Palace and constantly missing the door in their desperation to get under cover. I managed to scoop them up and put them in the garage, but before I could secure them in their run they had escaped and hidden under a pile of garden furniture. By this time the helicopter had long gone.

A quick check found the pekins huddled in the coop, Maude and Celia panting. The serama were huddled in their nest box, heads under each others' tails. And the baby pekins were still taking refuge in the garage. I confess that my heart was in my mouth when making these checks. There was a chicken keeper on the news last year who was losing birds and couldn't work out why. It turned out that hot air balloons were flying across the field early in the morning, and the birds were so frightened they were literally dropping dead with fright. With that in my mind, I was very afraid that I'd find one of my precious girls dead. Luckily, that wasn't the case. But stress is a funny thing, so I'm keeping a close eye.

It took half an hour to coax the baby pekins from their hiding place. All of the birds are now skittish and a bit quiet. I'm adding ACV and poultry spice to their rations in a bid to combat any lasting stress, and swearing inventively the entire time using 'whirly' as a prefix.

If it flies over again, the pilot may find me giving some very direct hand signals.


  1. Take a look here for the 'rules of the air' RoA for helicopters in private ownership in the UK

    There's an address for complaints on page 1, top right.

    Hope this helps.

  2. We have RAF jets flying low up the valley where I live, but at least they're training for combat - not pratting about like the idiot with the helicopter. I hope all your girls are and stay OK.