What a hoot! Fake owl fools twitcher in Cheltenham
PERCHED high above a Cheltenham street, an exotic looking bird has been ruffling a few feathers.
And one birdwatcher admitted he felt a right twit-twoo after mistaking the model owl for the real thing.
Thinking he had found a rare breed to the UK shores, Tony Mason started taking snaps of the owl nestling in the tree overlooking East Approach Drive in Pittville.
But squawks of joy turned to hoots of laughter when he realised he had been fooled.
Tony said: "I spotted this very unusual bird on the branch of a tree in East Approach drive.
"I could see it was an owl, the size of a large Tawny, but with very distinctive markings which didn't match any in the UK owl references.
"I thought we had an exotic visitor from some foreign clime. It was very still, unblinking with its head occasionally moving from side to side."
After realising the bird had not moved overnight, Tony took a closer look at his pictures and realised the extraordinary bird was a fake.
He said: "It is, in fact, a very realistic model, lashed securely to the branch, but with its head obviously fixed so it can move from side-to- side in the wind."
Mystery surrounds who put the bird in the tree, but Tony has his theories.
He added: "Presumably it is designed to keep the pigeons and other birds from messing up the cars."
RSPB spokesman Nik Shelton said: "People do put decoy birds into trees.
"I don't think a real owl would even be able to frighten off a pigeon though.
"Sometimes farmers use kites in the shape of birds of prey to scare off smaller birds.
"But, in this case, I imagine the other birds will get used to it eventually."