Air-mail: ‘Harold’ the dove sends postman into a flap in Long Stratton

Collared Dove called Harold among other names with postwoman Alison Preston age 51.  Picture: James Linsell-Clark.
Collared Dove called Harold among other names with postwoman Alison Preston age 51. Picture: James Linsell-Clark.

A postman has got all in a flap about a dove that tries to sit on his head while he is doing his rounds in Long Stratton.

The bird, known locally as Harold, has become a popular part of the community and regular visits people inside their homes.

Collared Dove called Harold among other names with postman David Chamberlain age 53. Picture: James Linsell-Clark.

Collared Dove called Harold among other names with postman David Chamberlain age 53. Picture: James Linsell-Clark.

But the bird has become something of an irritation to postman Neil Davies, as it regularly swoops down to sit on his head or shoulder while he attempts to do his morning round.

Mr Davies’ colleague, Alison Preston, 51, has been called in to cover his round.

She said: “I’ve never seen anything like it – he’s very friendly. Some of the neighbours don’t like him, nor does Neil.”

Alison, who has worked for Royal Mail for 10 years, added: “I’m used to the dove now.

He’ll come right up to you and sit on your head if you let him. He sees me off whenever I’ve posted letters here and then he flies back to numbers six and eight

Alison Preston

“He’ll come right up to you and sit on your head if you let him.

“He sees me off whenever I’ve posted letters here and then he flies back to numbers six and eight.”

The dove’s loud coo-coo can be heard all the way down the close.

Locals have volunteered to move their letterboxes to the end of their drives to stop the Royal Mail worker having to enter the dove’s territory.

Resident Joan Angier, 71, said: “He’s a lovely bird and we all love him around here.

“I just think the postman has a phobia of him, or that’s what everyone says anyway.

“He’s very friendly, he’ll come and sit on your knee in the garden.

“He’s a unique bird, he’s got a very distinctive coo-coo, different to the pigeons.”

The wild collared dove first appeared in April, nesting on top of villagers’ homes.

But he was taken under the wing of locals, who took pity on his skinny frame and began feeding him scraps.

Joan added: “Back then, he was young and skinny. But he got fed by the neighbours and he became so tame.

“We volunteered to put the letter boxes outside to make life easier for the postman.

“Unfortunately, with him being a wild bird, we have no control over him”.

Harold only approaches people when they enter his territory, but is not aggressive.

It is thought to be the first time a Royal Mail worker has been pestered by a dove while delivering mail.

Henry Perry, from Royal Mail, said: “While this seems light-hearted and fun, Royal Mail does take dog, bird and animal attacks very seriously.

“A lot of animals have caused very serious injuries to our staff.”