A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 26 March 2018

Hooptedoodle #297 - Deception in Warfare

Spring is a little delayed this year, but things are starting up in earnest - our crocuses (croci?) are making a brave show in the grass verge outside in the lane, and Dod the Gardener has just arrived with an enormous petrol-driven machine he's rented to scarify the lawns. This is getting serious, and may be expensive [scarified, Matron? - I was bloody terrified].

One thing we'd like to avoid this Summer is a repeat of the Swallows Episode from last year. Last Summer, after 17 years when they could have done the same thing (but declined), swallows eventually built a nest in our woodshed and - though I wish the little chaps no harm - they were a nuisance. They made a terrible mess. When starting their nest-building project, they appear to have thrown mud and crap all over the place, and the eventual nest was where it happened to stick best. Also, once the laying and brooding bit started, it was a problem to avoid disturbing them, and we had to clear the woodshed and put plastic sheeting down to limit the medieval squalor.

This is not so handy; we keep garden furniture in there, and some tools, and all the bins and tubs for the bird feed (which are, as they say, legion); we had to shift all that lot into the garage, so it didn't get pebbledashed - and then there was the small matter of having a load of firewood delivered during the Summer, so it could dry nicely for the year-end, and - another thing - last year the stupid beggars put their nest on top of an electric light, so we had to use a flashlight to avoid frying their eggs.

Once they had gone we disposed of the nest (which was a wreck anyway) and cleaned up thoroughly. Actually I'm not sure whether it's legal to get rid of the old nest - well, it's gone. This year we'll try to avoid a repeat. Rhetorical questions: do a pair of swallows come back to the same nest? - is there, in fact, such a thing as a pair of swallows to come back to the same nest? - could another pair somehow find (or hear about) last year's nest?.....

Whatever, we'll try to discourage them gently. We have a hot tip that one way to keep swallows away is to equip your shed with [wait for it]...

...a FAKE OWL.

Good, eh?

You buy a fake owl, and put it near the potential nesting site, and the swallows will express their disappointment, fleetingly (which is how they do everything, of course), and will then go and happily build a lovely nest somewhere else, where they can make as much mess as they want. You may well have a fake owl in your garden already, but here are some examples of what you can get.

Owlternative No.1 - this one's head turns in the wind - how awesome is that?

No.2 - this is a long-eared owl, and the swallows may knock on our door to
explain that these don't live around here
No.3 - very scary - this one is supposed to flutter on the top of a pole
So we are going to order one - at the very least we should get a good laugh if it doesn't work. It could make an interesting conversation piece if we have any soirees in the woodshed. The only slightly chilly note is that the Contesse found a reference to some unfortunate lady (in Devon, apparently - you probably like a bit of authentic detail in your stories?) who invested in a Fake Owl for exactly this purpose, and the swallows built their nest on top of the thing. Yes, I know - the owl doesn't look very realistic, does it? - and the swallows may not have realised they were supposed to be scared away. Also, I think it may have been reported in the Mail, so the story may be tripe.

People will always try to discredit a good idea
- just a minute - isn't that No.2...?

Interesting, though.

Real Life has been getting a bit much of late. We could certainly cope with swallows as well, but we'd rather they didn't bother.

Max Foy visits the lighthouse


  1. I'm sure there's a quip in there somewhere about fake owls being hard to swallow....

    1. To be honest, Ross, I was racking my brain trying to think of something while I was writing it, but I failed dismally, so just pretended that I had never had any such intention...

      The British tabloid approach would certainly have made some reference to something being a hoot, but that's aiming too low.

  2. I bring bad news to answer your rhetorical question - swallows' nests are frequently reused. The location of your shed is probably being disseminated as I write.

    1. At least if they can use google

    2. That's an interesting idea - I'm sure you know this, but the various releases of algorithm updates used by the Google search engine(s) tend to be named after birds - there have been Hummingbird, Pigeon and Penguin in the past, and Hawk came out last year. So what, I hear you ask? Well, so nothing, really, but it allows me a chance to offer further evidence that useless information is most irritating if it is also mind-numbingly boring.


      There's bound to be a reference to Twitter coming up if I can think of one...

      Cheers, Clive - hope things good with you!

  3. hmm.. perhaps if you told the swallows about the sparrowhawk - or told the sparrowhawk about the swallows?

    1. That's certainly an idea. Since last year we have a contingent of Magpies in the area, which is a threat for baby birds of any variety. The woodshed is a bit confined for hawks, I think.

      Maybe the sparrowhawk would take on the fake owl? - faites vos jeux, messieursdames.