Manchester Airport’s £1bn revamp is aimed at making life easier for passengers – but the construction project has attracted some unwelcome visitors.
According to the airfield’s wildlife team, the demolition phase of the Terminal Two transformation attracted ‘feral pigeons’ in search of food among the rubble.
This has meant extra work for the ‘bird scarers’ whose job is to prevent bird strikes on aircraft.
Anthony Clarke, wildlife control manager at Manchester Airport , said: “Part of our job is to look at what’s going on in the environment around the aifield, on areas such as buildng sites. The demolition of Terminal Two created a big dinner plate for birds.
“The first few metres of top soil on a site like that are a good food source. This attracted feral pigeons. It’s something we’ve had prior experience in and it’s petered out now because the buildings are going up now.”
Bird scaring is one of the many jobs carried out by the environmental team at Manchester Airport.
Officers take it in turn to be ‘scarecrows’ and use a number of techniques to get the job done.
These include blasting bird ‘distress calls’ from speakers to encourage birds to move away.
There’s also a long grass policy – with a length of between seven to 10 inches said to deter birdlife.
The team also analyse data to spot trends to help them fight the flocks – sometimes firing flares into the air as a deterrent. But sometimes the more traditional shouting and hand-waving is all it takes.
The strangest wildlife sighting for Anthony was a pink flamingo.
“I got that phone call on a Sunday evening, that was a surprise, it was night time on Terminal Two and we had to use a police thermal imaging camera to track it down”, he said.
Bird scaring is just one part of the vital work of Manchester’s airfield officers – who handle aircraft marshalling, safety audits, runway inspections and more.
“I don’t think passengers fully realise all we do to keep the runways safe. And I think it’s only with incidents like the bird strike on the Hudson River that people think about it”, Anthony said.
“We’ve got a good team on the airfield”, he added. “I feel lucky in that my job isn’t tied to the airfield – it’s about 13.5km around it too. We investigate planning applications – if anyone’s building a golf course – for example.”
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