Wimbledon 2013: Rufus the Hawk clears pigeons as record crowds queue up

 

Record crowds lined up for day one of the 2013 Wimbledon tennis championships on Monday as action got underway early on Centre Court with pigeon-scarer, Rufus the hawk, clearing away pesky bird life and forecasts for a dry day.

With his own Twitter account and Facebook page, Rufus has become one of Britain's best-known birds, deployed from 5am daily to clear pigeons roosting at the All England Club at Wimbledon that hosts the world's oldest tennis tournament.

This year, his handlers Anna and Imogen Davis, are keeping close tabs on Rufus who was stolen from their car overnight last year and was missing for three days before being found, abandoned in his transportation cage, on Wimbledon Common.

Anna Davis, from the company Avian Control Systems, said she suggested using hawks to clear the courts of pigeons about 14 years ago while at Wimbledon as a spectator and has been coming every morning of the two weeks championship ever since.

"With Rufus and the pigeons it ends up being fight or flight and the pigeons usually opt for flight," Davis told Reuters as the grounds keepers prepared Centre Court for Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, and Andy Murray later in the day.

By 10am Rufus is off duty and the courts cleared for the arrival of tennis fans, thousands of whom line up outside the ground, even camping overnight, for a chance to see their idols.

For Wimbledon is one of the few major British sporting events where people can still buy premium tickets on the day, if they are prepared to spend up to 24 hours in a line, known as The Queue, that has become as much a tradition at Wimbledon as strawberries and cream... and rain.

Meteorologists from Britain's national weather service, the Met Office, said the forecast for Monday was cloudy but dry, while the rest of the week was also looking fine.

Every day, several thousands tickets are sold at £20 each for unreserved seating and standing room on courts 3-19 while those at the front of the line get the 1,500 tickets available for the top three courts - Centre, One, and Two.

Over the years, The Queue has transformed to epitomise the British obsession for orderly lines, with strict rules ensuring fairness, no queue jumping, and civility, and a list of websites and Twitter accounts giving tips on how to line up.

Wimbledon spokesman Jon Friend said the line this year built up at a record pace after opening at 8am on Sunday, with organisers issuing advice to stay away after 3 1/2 hours. Usually it takes six hours before the line reaches that stage.

"You can't really predict or control the numbers but this really shows the popularity of tennis," Friend said.

Tennis fans in The Queue said the wait could be almost as fun at the tournament that dates back to 1877.

Judy Bourne, a retiree from Cheltenham about 84 miles (140 kms) north west of London, has camped out at Wimbledon for 34 years and ended up being 85th in the line this year, ensuring she got Court One ticket to see her favourite, Rafa Nadal.

"I just love the wait. You get to know people and I have made some good friends over the years," she told Reuters.

Japanese honeymooners Takahiro and Sayako Ikawa, both 32, from Osaka, lined up for two days to get into Wimbledon, coming 36th and 37th in the line and getting Centre Court tickets.

"It was a really English queue. Everyone was very nice and polite," said the couple, taking photos of themselves holding their tickets inside the gates.

Follow game-by-game coverage of Andy Murray's first match of Wimbledon 2013 against Benjamin Becker

Reuters

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine