University graduate finds work as human scarecrow

By Jon Welch
BBC News

image captionJamie Fox was told to bring a deckchair and a good book to his job as a human scarecrow

It sounds like the ideal job - the chance to sit down, read a book and perhaps idly strum a ukulele.

But Bangor University graduate Jamie Fox has to do it in all weathers, as a human scarecrow in a field in Norfolk.

Mr Fox, 22, has been employed to scare partridges from a field of oilseed rape at Aylsham because conventional birdscarers have not worked.

As well as wearing a bright orange coat, Mr Fox uses an accordion and a cowbell to frighten the birds.

Mr Fox, who graduated in the summer with a degree in music and English, earns about £250 a week scaring the partridges from the 10-acre (four-hectare) field.

"The farmer said to me, 'Bring a deckchair and a good book'," said Mr Fox, who hopes to find a job in music and is learning to play the ukulele during quiet moments in the field.

'Friends are envious'

"I get to sit and read for a lot of the time but whenever I see the partridges, I have to get up and scare them off," he said.

"I ring a cowbell and I've even played the accordion, but the ukulele doesn't seem to have any effect on them."

Mr Fox, of Aylsham, hopes to travel to New Zealand next year and is saving to pay for the trip.

"It's not a bad job. I've read some books and listened to a few podcasts," he said.

"A couple of my friends in busier, more generously-paid jobs, are slightly envious.

"It's nice to be out in the fresh air, although it gets very cold when the wind whips across the field and I've had to shelter in a wood when it's rained."

'Fillet steak'

image captionMr Fox graduated from Bangor University with a degree in music and English

The only company Mr Fox gets during his eight-hour shifts is from the occasional passing dog-walker or farm worker.

Farmer William Youngs also drops in to check on him every day.

He said he decided to employ a human birdscarer after other methods failed to stop the birds eating the young rape shoots.

"Partridges love rape - it's like fillet steak to them," said Mr Youngs.

"They nibble the leaves off, just leaving the stalk, and then it dies. Two or three years ago, we lost 30 acres (12 hectares), worth thousands of pounds.

"We've tried using bangers to scare them off but the partridges just come back a few minutes later.

"The only way to get rid of them is to walk down the field and push them off."

He said Mr Fox was proving a very effective deterrent.

"Jamie's doing a good job. You can really see the difference," he said.

More on this story