A hawk which helps keep Wimbledon free of pest pigeons is ruling the roost at the championships, his handler says.
Rufus and his handler Imogen Davis are from Brigstock, but stay in London during the fortnight-long tennis spectacular.
The courts at Wimbledon are kept in immaculate condition, and Rufus helps ensure pigeons do not interfere with preparations.
“It’s his domain, it’s his playground,” Imogen said of the five-year-old Harris hawk, from Avian Environmental.
“It’s pretty full-on. We start at 5am every morning. He flies in Centre Court until about 9.30am – we have to be out before the public come in.
“You are in the centre of London so there’s always the chance a pigeon could fly in. Our main job is to make sure they are not roosting in the rafters.”
Rufus also helps keep pigeons away from other London venues, including Westminster Abbey and the Royal Marsden Hospital.
But despite playing a key role in the smooth running of Wimbledon, Imogen said she has not had the chance to watch any tennis. “I’ve not managed to check out even one match,” she said. “But it’s all going well for Andy Murray so I don’t want to jinx it.”