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The Times June 17, 2006


Peacock falls for a petrol pump
By Simon de Bruxelles




Mr P the peacock.


IT IS a love affair destined to end in frustration. Mr P, a lonely peacock, has devoted the past three years of his life to romancing a petrol pump.

Every day the eight-year-old peacock saunters the quarter mile from his roost in a tree to the busy garage forecourt, where he spends the day showing off his flamboyant plumage in front of the row of pumps.

The unrequited romance may soon end, however, as the amorous peacock may be relocated to somewhere where his mating calls are less of a nuisance to residents.

Ornithologists believe that Mr P is confused by the clicking sounds of the pumps, which resemble the cries of a broody peahen. He is one of three peacocks reared from eggs by Shirley Horsman from Brierley, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

His two brothers are also showing signs of confusion when it comes to finding a mate. One appears to have a crush on the family cat, and the other has been seen attempting to mate with a garden light.

Mr P spends an hour every morning making his way to Brierley Service Station in time for its opening at 6.30am. The moment the first pump starts whirring, he spreads his impressive tail and struts his stuff around the nine-pump forecourt. He leaves only when it closes at 10pm.

Mrs Horsman, 54, said that the romancing starts at the same time each year. She said: “In spring he gets his tail feathers and he gets frisky. Then he goes looking for love.

“He gets very amorous and the clicking of the petrol pumps makes the same noise as a peahen crying ‘Come on, I’m ready’. Every time he hears someone filling up, he thinks he’s on to a good thing.

“It must be so hard for him listening to these pumps giving him the come-on all day long but with no way of releasing that pent-up frustration.”

The three bird brothers, all named Mr P because they are not easy to tell apart, roost in the oak and pine trees on Mrs Horsman’s five acres of woodland. They live wild except for afternoon feeds she and her daughter Charlotte, 17, provide.

Quenton Spratt, a wildfowl breeder and consultant for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “Peacocks will display to anything given half the chance. They are especially keen on colourful objects and, being territorial, will go back again and again.”

Mr P is known as Casanova at his adopted home at the petrol station. Julie Milner, the assistant manager, said: “Drivers can’t believe what they’re seeing. He’s become a proper little tourist attraction.”

But some residents have complained to the local council about Mr P’s noisy mating calls and are appealing for the bird to be caught and re-homed.

Environmental health officers at the Forest of Dean District Council intend to catch him and find him a new home away from human habitation.

thetimesonline.co.uk