Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Evil, Smelly Devils - or Just Dave and His Mates? Peacocks May Be Beautiful but Perhaps Not When There Are 30 of Them Roving around the Village and - Frankly - Not Behaving All That Well. HANNAH GRAHAM Gauges Opinions in Ushaw Moor

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Evil, Smelly Devils - or Just Dave and His Mates? Peacocks May Be Beautiful but Perhaps Not When There Are 30 of Them Roving around the Village and - Frankly - Not Behaving All That Well. HANNAH GRAHAM Gauges Opinions in Ushaw Moor

Article excerpt

HE peacocks of Ushaw Moor have suddenly become famous.

TAfter resident Graham Bridge, 55, set up a petition calling on Durham County Council to rid villagers of the plague of an estimated 30 birds, there was a surge of interest in complaints of all-night noise, attacks on cars, and carpet-ruining droppings.

Self-employed in financial services, Mr Bridge works from home and can hear the birds screeching through the day.

At night, they sit on roofs and call out to each other, disturbing the 4,000 villagers.

"Sleep to me is the number one nuisance, to a degree you can live with the other things," he said.

The peacocks also scratch and peck cars, convinced their reflection in the paintwork is a rival bird.

Intrigued by tales of a village under siege, with visions of a more colourful version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, we set out for Ushaw Moor.

Arriving in the village, I was surprised to see no sign of th notorious menaces. The streets were quiet, and we didn't glimpse so much as a feather, or hear the deafening mating screech we had been warned about.

After a few minutes we bumped into local man Bob Marsh.

Bob, 57, told us he'd lived in Ushaw Moor most of his life. The peacocks, he said, had been there for about 20 years, and had never caused him much concern.

"I've never been bothered by them," he said. "You'll probably find them up near the farm, or you some-times see them on top of buildings."

The peaceful residential streets still seemed stubbornly devoid of the "evil" peacock leavings we had read about, until we reached Broom Hall farm.

There, we hit the jackpot: a lone female peacock was sitting peacefully in front of a mirror in the corner of the drive, admiring her own reflection.

It wasn't quite the dramatic display of an aggressive male on the hunt for a mate, but it was the first sign we'd seen of anything more than a pigeon, so while photographer Lewis Arnold rushed to get a few snaps, I went to speak to residents.

Calvin Moore, 42, lives at the farm, where he runs equine therapy sessions for people with learning disabilities. He told me that there had been peacocks in Ushaw Moor since he moved there 20 years ago, and was quite baffled by the fuss they had suddenly caused.

"It's absurd, to be honest," he said. "We've read online that there are supposedly 30 angry birds terrorising the village - as if there's gangs of peacocks hanging around on street corners like rowdy teens. It's just crazy. "People assume they're ours, and I've had neighbours quite upset, telling me not to get rid of them - they're actually nothing to do with me, but I would be sad to see them go.

"They're one of the most beautiful birds in the world, I think we're privileged to have them in the village." By now Lewis had managed to catch sight of what we'd come for: a huge male peacock. …

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