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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ockie - and hatching day arrives

Thurs 26th March 2015 – If you read my last blog you will know that I am looking after a little collared dove, found on the road, and brought to me to care for. He had a pleasant day yesterday, sitting outside in the warm sun, protected by being in the run, but still able to enjoy the fresh air. I was glad that he had had that time because when I went in first thing this morning, poor little Ockie was dead. I was saddened but not surprised. I had done what I could but it was not to be. I think he was one of the sweetest little things I have ever looked after, but who knows what was wrong with him or why he was unable to look after himself. There’s no point speculating. RIP little brown angel.

Vistors on the patio! - and no I didn't feed them - there are hungry enough mouths already!

 Now, what is this white blob below?
 It's Cloud on walkabout, tiptoeing through the daffodils!
 Four pigeons were sent out to fetch her back!!!

Sat. 28.3.15 – The eggs are due to hatch this weekend, and of course I am looking forward to it. I took the grain over to the island to feed the flock first thing and when I came back there was a part egg shell on the patio – I’m sure it hadn’t been there when I came out! Ooh, Lucky and Loretta might have a new baby or even two!

Later – No more evidence of hatching, and because Loretta is a new bird to me, I daren’t go too near the cote to investigate. Although Lucky would probably tolerate me mounting the steps and having a peek, it is not worth the risk in case it did upset him. I don’t want anything to go wrong with my first babies of 2015.

Sun. 29.3.15 – Lucky and Loretta are good parents; not leaving the babies alone even for a few seconds, which obviously they shouldn’t do at this age. I did stand on a chair at a distance from the cote when Lucky was on duty, and I did see him bending his neck down and making the sort of head movements that would indicate that he was feeding. I wonder what the baby or babies will be like? As Lucky and Loretta both have darker patches in their white feathers, the babies could be very pretty.
Regular readers will remember that my last mummy dove, Charm, was very inclined to leave her new babies too early, causing me much distress, worry and complicated arrangements to try to ensure their survival. I am hoping that Loretta will spare me all this but I can’t be sure of it – these doves are not ‘homed’ to the cote and I have no idea what kind of mother she will prove to be. Charm used to leave the babies at night at four days old (when they shouldn’t be left until fourteen days really). All I can do is check that she is on the nest when I go to bed, and hope she stays there all night. Last year, something happened and Charm who was definitely on her nest when I went to bed, most unusually left the dovecote in the night or very early in the morning and her babies died – and so did the baby, and one unhatched egg of the other young mother dove in the cote. I still haven’t really got over that incident, and can only pray that all is calm and quiet for Loretta while the babies are so little.

Wed 1.4.15 – We’ve had a couple of extremely windy nights – more worry for me in case the cote should blow down! I don’t know how I manage to sleep sometimes. But all was well in the mornings. I still have not managed to have a peep at the babies, though I have tried several times more, but only when Lucky’s on the nest. Today when I was up there, I was pretty sure that I could see an egg – which would mean that one egg didn’t hatch, as it is unlikely to be an eggshell..... I think. I couldn’t see a baby.
I try to be around for the morning and late afternoon changes – when Lucky and Loretta swap places. This means that I can ensure the safety of the parent that is out, while it feeds, and also know that the babies are not left alone. The late afternoon change has been about half five and when Loretta didn’t come back I was concerned. I could tell that Lucky was agitated as he kept peeking out, and I wondered if he was hungry. It was nearly 6pm. There were a few pigeons still around so I threw some grain on the ground fairly near the cote, and of course the gannets came down – and Lucky came out to eat. I quickly grabbed the steps, moved them to under the cote, scrambled up for a look – only one baby, yellow and plump, and an unhatched egg. Lucky gobbled some peanuts and then.....flew off! Oh no Lucky! – your baby! I dashed back into the cottage, said to hubby ‘Loretta has not come back, and Lucky has left the nest’ – ‘Oh my God’ he said – which was not meaning oh my god, the poor baby but more oh my god now she will be fussing about the baby and bringing it into the house etc. I went and got my ‘electric hen’ machine and plugged it in, and fished out the fake nest which is an old hood of mine with hay in it. I’ll wait 5 minutes only, I thought, then I will bring it in. As I looked out of the window, there was a white flash of wings, and Loretta flew into the cote – thank heavens! Had Lucky gone to find her? Did he know she’d come back? Well, who knows, but I was so glad she was back to take care of their one baby. I’m not sad there is only one, as I am so pleased that there IS one! I had thought of some names for the pair, but now they are not appropriate so my one singleton baby dove will be called Solo.

Thurs 2nd - In the afternoon, when it was a little warmer, Lucky left Solo for a few minutes and came down to the ground for some food, then he flew to the roof but was back in the cote before I was worried. I managed to get you a photo of the first baby of the season.

 You can see the unhatched egg too. I didn’t remove it because – 1. It’s not mine to make a decision on, and Lucky is perfectly capable of chucking it out if he wanted to. 2. I have read that an unhatched egg gives the baby the support it would’ve got from its sibling. This is not the first singleton baby I have had in the cote. Flash and Omo in 2012 I think it was hatched only one of their first two eggs, and that was baby Fairy. My flightless dove, Jose, who mated with that wonderful intelligent white dove, Happy, also only hatched one of the two eggs – baby Pearl. My last baby of the summer, last year, Twinkle, did have a sibling but it had obviously died after only a few days, so Twinkle was brought up alone but unfortunately he wasn’t long for this world either. I hope Solo will grow big and strong as he has no-one to share the care of his parents with – which should benefit him, I think.
Without bothering to eat, as far as I saw, Loretta flew into the nestbox to relieve Lucky from his baby sitting duty at 5.25pm tonight – no wonder he was worried last night at nearly 6pm. Now she is in, I can relax, but just before I go to bed, I flicker the torch – first round the garden so she sees the light and is not worried, then for a split second on the cote, to at least make sure she is there before I go to bed. I have to remember that Loretta is not Charm – with her upsetting habit of leaving the babies alone at only 4 days old. And of course Lucky is not Sky – that dreadful father I had a couple of years ago who would leave the eggs or babies on a whim at any time. I do so want all to go well with baby Solo – and Lucky deserves a healthy baby. This is his 11th baby. In Spring 2013, when he was with Charm (his true love), his first babies in the cote were Fennie and Dolly – and Dolly is still seen every day. So she is two years old, and Lucky must be at least 9 months older than his daughter and could well be a year or more older, so he’s now about three years old (or older). The next two eggs that Charm laid were duds, but in July 13 Lucky and Charm had Harlequin and Columbine, and then Alpha and Omega in Aug 13. These two - my darlings Alf and Meg - were peaky – probably due to them nearly dying through Charm’s neglect and my inexperience – and I had to practically hand rear them. In January 2014, Lucky and Charm were still together and hatched eggs in January – the ill-fated babies that were left in the night or early morning by Charm, and were dead when I found them. I named these Hayley and January. After this, Charm was enticed away by Snow White and Lucky was ‘divorced’. He helped to rear the babies hatched from the eggs Charm laid, because he just couldn’t understand that he wasn’t the father – he tried to do his turn sitting on the eggs, and fed the babies whenever he got the chance. These babies were Fern and Fleur and I honestly wouldn’t know if they were Snow White’s biologically or Lucky’s, but Charm considered SW was the father. Lucky eventually teamed up with Loveday and they hatched Desiree and Chance later in 2014. Loveday laid more eggs after that but they came to nothing. If you read my blogs regularly you will know that Snow White, Charm and many other of my flock, including Loveday probably, were all culled by the owner of wherever they were roosting at night at the beginning of this year – leaving Lucky alone again. But now he’s with pretty Loretta, and baby Solo is his 11th baby in my cote (not counting dud eggs and the possibility that Fern and Fleur were his!)

I have a new and unusual addition to the flock - meet Seagle! So called because she has the proud demeanor of an eagle with the colouring of a seagull!!!

Seagle is the palest grey I have ever seen. Remember those 'his mum doesnt use Persil' ads, when you saw one kid in greyish football kit and his friend in sparkling white? - well, that's how Seagle appears against the white doves. She has very pale eyes too. Her looks have ensured that she gets regular peanuts! I am pretty sure she is female, and already a favourite with Lucky! He's got an eye for a pretty and unusual female.

Good Friday – 3.4.15 – I hadn’t seen my magnificent pigeon, Silver Shadow for a couple of days and had mentally put him on the missing list. About 6pm when all the pigeons and doves had left, and Lucky and Loretta had switched places half an hour before, I opened the back door to go out to the shed kitchen as we are cooking in there now the aga is not lit – and he startled me by flying down from the porch roof where he had been waiting. I was so glad to see him, and he ate peanuts from my hand, and then grain from the patio – really stocking up and having a hearty meal. He is twice the size of the usual pigeons, and about 100 times more beautiful!

Easter Saturday 4.4.15 – Baby Solo is a week old today! I have only seen him twice, but that’s more than fine, as it means Lucky and Loretta are keeping him close, warm and fed.
But this afternoon, I could see him from the ground, craning up to Lucky to be fed. I got the steps and had a look as Lucky is pretty tolerant, but Solo was tucked underneath again – I could just see his little bottom with some tiny white feathers already! Lucky is also keeping the egg with him.

Easter Sunday 5.4.15 – I was heading off to Mass but threw some grain to Lucky and some others on the patio, and Loretta came out of the nest to eat too – so I had another quick look at Solo, but again he was facing away. I noticed now that he has quite a lot of dark patches, which is not surprising as both his parents are not pure white, and we definitely will have darker colouring.
When I came back Lucky was on the nest, but again came out for some food, so I grabbed the camera and got the first proper photo of baby Solo, now about 7/8 days old.

We were out in the afternoon and didn’t arrive back til 6.30pm – obviously still light. Pigeons, Grace and Lucky on the roof – No Loretta..... oh dear. Well I fed the birds that were there, and quickly checked Solo who was content and warm with a full crop, and within ten minutes Loretta had arrived back, wanting food herself. While she wasn’t there I had whizzed around, getting my fake hood nest, preparing a box, putting on the kettle for a hot water bottle, just in case. But Loretta ate, then walked calmly to the water bath had a drink, then flew to her baby. I was relieved as Solo is too young to be left at night, so I would’ve had to bring him in which is always stressful, and also means getting up very early to put him back in the cote before the parents come back. So far, touch wood, Loretta and Lucky have been excellent parents to their one new baby.

Easter Monday 6.4.15 – Turned into a warm sunny morning, and Lucky and Loretta left Solo alone in the cote for short periods – which is fine – and sunned themselves on the roof, or pecked around the garden. As long as they – or one of them – stays close to the cote then Solo is now big enough to be left on his own for a while. He has all the beginnings of his white and darker feathers now and is getting a big boy! (or girl).

Lucky and Loretta alone on the roof - and on the patio

5pm – we came home after the afternoon out. I checked Solo who was alone but fine, then brought Cloud and Cissie in to the conservatory, where Chino had been left. A few pigeons came down and were fed, but no mummy and daddy for Solo. About 6pm two white doves circled and I could see from their tail feathers that they were Lucky and Loretta, but though they came down to the roof, they didn’t come to the garden and they didn’t go to Solo. I am now writing in real time - It’s now nearly 7pm and though he has a very full crop (despite me not feeding the flock this afternoon) and is warm, if Loretta doesn’t come back soon, I will bring him in for the night. It just gets too cold and I get too worried. I don’t like them being left at night til they are two weeks old, and remember Solo doesn’t have a sibling only a cold egg which doesn’t have much snuggle factor!
7.30pm – I took a call on my phone and while on it, went into the garden in the vain hope that Loretta might be there..... and yes, goodness me, a white dove appeared on the roof but the light was failing and I couldn’t see if it was her. It definitely wasn’t Lucky, but I wouldn’t expect it to be.... I threw some grain onto the garden table, and came inside so as not to distract or upset her... if it was her.  She didn’t come to the table but .....yes, she flew to the cote, waited on the ledge a few seconds, and then went inside. Good, good, good.

Tue 7.4.15 – I removed the egg from the nest today as it seemed to have a crack and I didn’t want it making the nest messy. Also, as Lucky and Loretta are leaving Solo alone a lot now, I didn’t want the jackdaws  trying to pinch the egg and upsetting Solo. I cracked it – and there was no real embryo at all....just a bit of a lumpy thing

I took Solo out for the first time to have a good look at him – funny little thing!

Below, L to R the homies, Cloud, Cissie, Chino enjoy the freedom in the garden
 Pandora, below, still manages to eat with her beak which grew back twisted after an injury more than 18 months ago
 And later on, the homies tired of pecking round the garden, rest in a sunny corner.

I had a feeling Loretta wouldn’t come back tonight. She was around about 6pm, had some food, flew to the nestbox, checked Solo briefly and then flew away with a determined clap of wings. I got things ready to bring him in, but waited til 7.45pm as she had come back at 7.30pm last night. It was getting dark and chilly when I brought him in and he had retreated to the far back of the nestbox. I really think it wouldn’t do him any good to be left alone all night, especially without a sibling to keep him warm. He doesn’t have warm enough feathers, poor little thing – though probably well developed for his age. He’s currently in the hood, which is in a bowl with a hot water bottle in it, and the whole thing is in a (partially covered by a rug) deep box! Before I go to bed, I will change the usual bottle for a microwave one which will stay warm for most of the night I hope. I’ll be getting up early to put him back in the nestbox hopefully before his parents know he’s been snitched!

8th April 15 – I set my alarm for 5.45am to be on the safe side...... but woke up in a panic when I ‘heard’ what I thought was hubby’s alarm (in the other room) and I knew he was getting up for work at 6.20am. I grabbed my phone – it said 6.18, I thought, so I pulled on a fleece and rushed to get Solo, think OMG the parents will be there, they will have found him gone etc etc, panic, panic. But with Solo in his hood nest, I arrived at our cottage door to find it still really dark....so I checked the time and it was only 5.20am! The ‘alarm’ had all been in my head! So I put Solo back and went back to bed – til my alarm really went off at 5.45 and again too dark so another 15 mins in bed. At 6am I got up and made tea but it was twenty to seven before two pigeons arrived on the roof. I had Solo in his nest in the kitchen by then, and I warmed up a big smooth stone and made a hot water bottle for the nestbox in the cote. I’ve done this before with babies and you all probably think I am mad! – but I didn’t want Solo to go back into a cold, possibly dampish nest!  At quarter to seven two white doves appeared on the roof – one was definitely not Lucky, but the other was possibly Loretta – so I popped out straight away, chucked out the stone hottie, checked with my hand that the hay wasn’t too hot, and popped Solo in. I think it was Loretta and soon afterwards Lucky turned up, and many of the others from the morning flock. But before feeding had really started, and definitely before Solo had been fed, there was an attempted hawk strike in the garden. I had just gone round the side of the house – and there was a brown and grey kerfuffle – and the hawk and its pigeon victim both flew up and away in front of me! I was pleased the pigeon got away, but the incident meant that the rest of the flock were spooked and they all flew off. Lucky had come back by 8am but I had to leave at 8.15am and just had to hope that Solo would get fed sooner rather than later. One thing pleased me when I cleaned up Solo’s night arrangements – the microwave bottle was still warm. 10pm to 8am so ideal for pets, in fact I bought it originally for my little doggie. So for the next few days at least, I will bring Solo in at night - but I don't think I will need to get up quite so early!

Lucky's the one doing the kissing in the photo below. Charm was the love of his life, he totally adored her and took it really hard when she went off with Snow White. He only paired up with Loveday so he could have the babies his heart craved for - but now she's gone too and he's found love again with Loretta and he really does seem to care for her. Already his mind is on new eggs!

To be cont......

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Our first eggs of the year! - and a rescue

9.3.15 – Lucky and Loretta are proud to announce that they have a brand new egg! And I’ve never even seen them mating! In the previous few days, Lucky augmented the nest Snow White started with extra sticks, and when the birds were not around I added some nice dry hay.

Below - another short-lived romance for Chino
 Ooh, I think this tall dark stranger likes me!
 And he's a good kisser!

But it fizzled out before it'd begun.....

10.3.15 – Still only one egg.

11.3.15 – When Loretta popped out of the cote, I popped up the steps! – yes, we have two eggs now!  How exciting! If all goes to plan, they will hatch at the end of the month. I do hope Loretta will prove to be a better mother than Charm. Loretta is now Lucky’s 3rd ‘wife’. When Charm dumped Lucky for Snow White last year, he mated up with Loveday, but I am pretty sure she was also killed in the cull. She was an ok mother, but their babies were rather peaky.  I know Lucky is fertile and a good father, but Loretta is unknown and these may well be her first eggs. This evening, Loretta was in the cote with the eggs, and Tommy was in his side nestbox, alone – and as it got dusk, someone zoomed into the bottom front box – I reckon it was Claro.

14.3.15 -  Lucky on the roof with his two minders!!

20.3.15 - Partial eclipse of the sun today, but all that happened in our garden was that it got very gloomy. My only concern was that Lucky, on the eggs, would somehow think it was night, and that he shouldn't be there, and would leave the eggs - so I put on the lights in the kitchen, sitting room and conservatory to make a glow that he could see - and he was fine, and probably would've been anyway! It only lasted a short while and then we were back to normal.

23.3.15 - The nice man from the poultry farm where I get some of my grain for the doves phoned about 4pm to say someone had brought a collared dove in to him - could he bring it to me? He turned up shortly after with this tiny little thing in a carrier. Apparently found by a driving instructor and brought to the poultry farm, it had had nothing but water since 10am. The first thing to do is check for injuries of course - but I found no evidence of any and the baby felt reasonable warm (you must never try to feed a cold bird). I had prepared a box, with food and water, but when I saw the tiny size of it, I realised that the normal pigeon grain would be like us eating cannonballs! Here is baby Ockie ( so named as the poultry farm is in Ockham)

He is a collared dove and fully feathered, but possibly newly fledged - I don't know. I quickly read up on the pigeon rescue site I always use and found that these particular birds can get stressed very easily if they feel trapped and even die from it - collared doves. I attempted to give him a little drink of water, but then I thought best to leave him for a little while and see how he was in half an hour.

He's adorable, isn't he?

I whizzed round for half an hour doing things, and made up some of the Kaytee mix into little balls, mixed with tiny grain that I give to the blue tits and robins. Then I thought I better feed him, unless I see he is feeding himself.... which he wasn't. I wrapped him in the towel again and made a baby bundle on my knee. He seemed happy to be hand-fed like I feed the squabs sometimes and hopefully a bit of food will do him good. He struggled out of the towel and perched on top of it, alert and quite happy. Afterwards Ockie closed his eyes and appeared to be asleep, but I didn't feel the box, though lined with cloth and paper, was very warm and comfortable for a bird that still seems like a baby, so I brought an old fleece lined hood of mine, lined with dry hay and made a nest for him. Another half an hour or so went by and then I offered him another drink from the little glass, and he had a proper drink which pleased and relieved me.

The homies are currently coming in from the garden to the conservatory between 4-5pm, depending on the weather, and then they go to their night-boxes in the spare room about 6pm. The conservatory gets pretty cold at night, and I certainly wasn't going to leave baby Ockie in there - so I put his hood nest into a deep box, with a hot water bottle underneath, inside the carrying box and put him in the spare room too. I am writing this at 8pm and we go to bed about 10pm so just beforehand I will do the microwave bottle that keeps hot for up to 6 hours supposedly, and replace the normal bottle. Hopefully, Ockie will stay warm and survive the night....... If he does I will weigh him tomorrow and think out arrangements for him properly. The trouble is, according to the website, these young birds can get attached to humans and can never be released..... well, let's see how he goes....one step at a time. I don't know the circumstances under which he was found, but it would've been best if the finder had first observed the little bird so see if any parents were around - but maybe they did or maybe the bird was on the road..... anyway, it's too late for that and now he's with me.

24.3.15 - Please Lord let my baby be alive..... and he was (thank you, Lord). I brought his inner box into the kitchen while I fed the flock and the homies, then I hand fed him - which he again accepted, though he didnt drink much.  There was a little normal-ish looking poop in his night box, which is a good sign.He stood quietly on the scales while I weighed him - 98g - so very very light. His weight will hopefully help me to work out how much food he needs. I feel sorry for Ockie, he has been taken out of his environment and the best I can hope for is that he survives and considers himself a 'pigeon' and joins in with the rest of the flock. But apparently collared doves are not flock birds, and like to be alone or with their mate. When the homies go into the garden, I plan to quickly clean and sort out Cissie's crate and put him in there for the day - there is plenty of space if he wants to move around.

By half ten Ockie had perked up quite a lot. I'd been shopping and then came in, took him out and held the little glass so he could have a drink - which he did. Then I put him back in his nest.... but after a while I could hear little noises and went into the conservatory to find he had come out of the box part and was doing a little pecking, and a little preening - a good sign!

Ockie had a good day and seemed well, though of course I don't really know. He did have a little diarrhoea but hardly surprising as he wouldn.t be having his normal food. I did see him pecking at the food, but didnt see him manage to actually eat anything on his own. I fed him by hand three times and offered water. I don't really know how much he should be eating and haven't been able to find it, but I am satisfied that he had enough to eat and drink today.

25.3.15 -  By this afternoon, Ockie was attempting to get out of Cissie's crate. I was reading to my three year old grand-daughter in the conservatory and it was really distracting.

I opened the door of the crate and he perched on the side, then fluttered up to a nearby box. I could tell from this that he can fly, though maybe not strongly or for long distances.

 'I think maybe we better put him outside' I told her. 'But a naughty one might eat him!' she said. 'We'll put him in Cissie's run' I reassured her. So that's what we did, first having removed Cissie to Cloud's hutch and separating them with a wire grille as Cloud doesn't like sharing! Ockie, in the run, seemed determined to try to get out of that too but I reckoned he was safe enough and I had to drive her home so her mum could take her to her gymnastics class. I was back in little over an hour to find Ockie had settled himself and I was able to let the homies out too. Here's Chino on a brick, and the little brown blob beyond the plank is Ockie.

Juvenile rescue collared dove

The run gets sun most of the day, and there are shady parts in there too. I had sprinkled some food for him to find, but I am still not sure if he can eat alone.

When the sun goes down over the roof, the garden gets chilly quite quickly, and like it or not, Ockie was coming in for the 3rd night in my house. First of all I gave him a little drink and attempted to feed him, but he doesnt like being fed and resists. The following comes from the pigeon and dove rescue site - 
Wild collared doves can become easily stressed.  They don't like feeling trapped, being enclosed in small cages and can hurt themselves by battering against the bars...and they can die of a heart attack if they become stressed while being handled.  So if you are handling a wild collared dove and it starts to open its mouth and gasp, put it down immediately and leave it somewhere quiet to recuperate.

Ockie was doing this (and has done it before - see photo below) so I had to leave the attempt and let him be. He was put in his hood nest in an upturned box in the conservatory - not back in Cissie's crate because she was in it by then. Ockie settled down in his nest although if he had not wanted to he could've flown out of the box (which would've been awkward). This was about 4-4.15pm I think and he stayed where he was until I removed him for another drink and then into his nest into a deep box which I put in the spare room in a covered domed wired box - it's all very complicated!

Young rescue collared dove with open beak, possibly stressed

He was 'in bed' about 5.50pm which is earlier than the others, who stay in the conservatory now til about 6.15pm - it all depends on the light. I was relieved that he didn't make a fuss about coming in, as last night we had a light frost and it was going down to zero tonight too. If you saw how tiny weeny he is, you would understand my concern. I will have to put him in the run tomorrow, so Cissie and Cloud will just have to share again or I will have to think of something else. I can't risk leaving Ockie in with Cissie, as she might hurt him.

To be cont....

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Moving on with Lucky and Loretta

14.2.15 – My Valentine was Tommy, peeking out of ‘his’ nestbox. Loretta was in the main box but flew away so I took the chance to take Tommy some peanuts. It was too early to do the main feed but I wanted my special boy to have something to eat! I approached the steps and I climbed up with my palm flat to show the peanuts. He allowed me to place them in front of him on the little doorstep, and I felt his soft white feathers. Tommy was raised in the cote and now as a young male of just about breeding age, he feels he has a right to a room in his old home, and I am hoping Lucky who is now alpha male will be reasonable about it.

Tommy, side, and Loretta, front

 The birds on the patio
 Above, my Lucky

and his new pretty wife, Loretta

15.2.15 – Lucky and Loretta spent time in ‘their’ nestbox – Snow White and Charm’s old one with the sticks SW collected still in it. Tommy spent a short time in his. I tried to get the pigeons to come over to the island to be fed – to start trying to preserve the lawn.....well there is no lawn now! Of course despite me throwing the grain there, and one or two of them spotting I had done so, none would come over. So I had the brilliant idea of taking a pigeon over there...... of course, one of the homies would’ve been ideal, but they can’t fly so the island is much too dangerous for them – one wrong move and they would be in the water. I easily caught a brown pigeon, carried it, struggling, to the island where there was lots of grain and peanuts looking very yummy, but of course the damn thing just flew straight back to the garden! Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Later, the jackdaws, crows and jays had a good feast! The sweetest dove-pidgie turned up with a few stragglers just before it started to get gloomy, but not quite dusk. It was small and obviously very hungry, so I was happy to make sure it had a good feed. I don’t think I recognised it, and I think I would’ve done as it was white with dark markings round its neck, and had been ringed with a thick orange band. I don’t think I would’ve chosen that ring for that bird.....  It stayed on the roof of the house, alone, for quite a long while, probably resting.

A sweet visitor, but never seen again

16.2.15 -  It is awkward trying to get the birds over to the island – they just don’t want to go. I sprinkle food going through the archway and they will come onto the little lawn outside the conservatory, but they don’t like going down the slim passage which leads to the little lawn at the back of the conservatory where the washing line is. Basically, they don’t like change – ever! They don’t like change, wind, strange people, strange things in the garden like different garden furniture, sparrowhawks, anything really – mind you, I don’t like change either, so I understand them. My idea has been to get them moving down to where the washing line is, behind the conservatory, then lead the trail of grain going out of the gate, over the bridge and on to the island. Today, I caught two separate pigeons at different times and took them over to the island – but both flew straight back. I took both Cloud and Cissie, one by one, to the island and sat on the wall to feed them – holding them firmly so they wouldn’t escape, though they don’t try to when they are being fed – usually. This didn’t encourage the pigeons over to the island either. Then I had a brilliant idea! If I took my knitted dove and pigeon they might act as decoys. The weather was getting mizzly..... the birds weren’t happy.....but I tried anyway....

 The house from the island - you can just about see the pigeons on the roof
 Knitted decoys!

Obviously the homies had to stay in the garden, and always will do – they wandered about as usual, with Chino wavering between wandering and being a scaredy-cat. I wasn’t not going to feed my special favourites – Dolly, Fleur, Mr. Strong, Frances etc and most especially Tommy, Lucky and Loretta.... so they were fed, with the pidgies muscling in too, but hopefully if I keep it minimal, the birds will get the idea of going to the island. I did used to feed them there a long time ago – and this is just to keep hubbie happy and try to let our grass recover. I didn’t see the sweet one from yesterday, but about quarter to five when it was very gloomy, three white doves flew back to the roof and then to the cote – Tommy, Lucky and Loretta! At five, and then again at quarter past I could still see at least one peeking out of the cote.... and at six pm when it was pitch black I quickly flickered the torch and could still see the peeker. I wonder if some or all will stay the night? – trouble is, I don’t really want them laying eggs til at least April when the weather might be a bit kinder, but happy for them to stay safe in the cote of course – just no eggs please, birdies!

17.2.15 – The birds in the cote were there when I got up, but I managed to get a look later and no egg, thank goodness. Lucky hasn’t brought any new sticks, there are just SW’s in there, but I will bring a handful or two of hay from the shed into the kitchen (to make sure it’s not damp) to have it handy in case Loretta lays an egg in the Spartan nest.

Chino, preening after giving herself a bath

Bianca, a blue-ringed white dove who turns up periodically, arrived and after a few seconds I realised she was picking up grain in a strange, sideways manner – so I observed her and think she has PMV. I managed to catch her and hand feed her, but I released as I can’t keep another homie. The grain I gave her will sustain her for a couple of days and I hope she’ll be able to get back here if she needs me. (Note - I am editing this blog ready to publish and note that I havent seen her again and that was a month ago - poor thing, she probably died)
In the afternoon I did the same thing with trying to get the flock over to the island- with no luck but late in the afternoon, when I was in the conservatory, with my camera handy, I saw a couple on the bridge.

 Below, Lucky and Loretta, at the end of the day, in the evening sun

18th Feb – I got up early and the birds were in the cote but, again, when I got the chance to check, no egg. Mind you, I haven’t seen Lucky and Loretta mating, only occasionally billing and cooing. I am hoping that they are just staying the night so that other birds don’t ‘take over’ and will put off breeding for a while. It might just be Lucky in the cote at night, I can’t pry too closely as I don’t want to upset Loretta.
Today I caught Mr. Strong and took him to the island – same result, cross bird who flew off immediately and scratched my hand into the bargain (but I forgive him!). The general pigeons gather on the house roof, and some fly out towards the island, and then turn back. They do not like the change of feeding place AT ALL! I put food on the shed roof and some will come there, and hopefully as I put less food out in the garden they will gradually find their way over to the island. After a while, I collected up the homies into the hutch and run, and went shopping. When I came back there were quite a few pigeons on the island.
20th Feb – the majority of the afternoon flock flew to the island to be fed (at last!). The first white dove to come over was Fleur – for a delicate looking little dove with a pretty flutey tail she is quite clever and a little adventurer, very ‘copped on’ to where I am and what I am doing. Dolly eventually made it over too, but seem quite bewildered to be there! I still feed any of my white doves and special pigeons in the garden but targeted to them and in small quantities, so the main flock HAVE to go to the island if they want food. I don’t particularly like traipsing over the bridge in this weather, but the garden is terrible and by feeding on the island hubbie will feel I am doing my best to preserve the lawn – not that there is hardly any lawn, it is all mud!
Yesterday Claro (Clara that was) and Tommy were fighting in the side nestbox that they both feel they have a right to live in. They are both big young white male doves, and neither seems stronger. I let them tussle for a while, then I reached in and removed Claro and put him in the back side box. I wouldn’t really mind which of the two settled there, and neither has a female as far as I am aware, but I feel Tommy has the edge as he has spent more time there – I mean recently, I am not counting when they were both babies. Both of them hatched in the cote last year – I quickly checked back and Claro was hatched with Clover (no longer seen) in July and Tommy (with Mercy, also no longer seen) about 39 days later (Both are offspring of Snow White and Charm, cruelly killed in the recent cull) - So as you can see, there is little between them in age, and both seem fighting fit! I just hope they don’t hurt each other.
21st Feb 15 – I wanted to get on with cleaning the cote, that I started about two weeks or more ago. The awkward part, the back, is still very green. But Lucky and Loretta were in their box at the front, and yes, Claro and Tommy were fighting in the side box again. When the doves fight one tries to grab the other on the neck, and push it out of the box – but these are a matched pair, so they just go round and round. Again, I gently removed Claro and put him in the side. Then I went and fetched peanuts for them both. I love them both, they are wonderful birds – and reminders of SW and Charm – but ultimately they will have to sort out between themselves who will be the winner.

 Tommy and Claro - but now I can't remember which pic is which! Both are white males, and both are ringed so I know them when I see them out of the cote!

I thought I’d wait for a while, though it was sunny and ideal cote cleaning weather, to give the birds a chance to be in the cote and recover from the fight.
The racer with the injured foot that I mentioned a blog or two back is doing quite well. I always target it for food, and it’s bad foot is getting stronger, and it doesn’t have to rely on it’s wings so much for support.
Lucky has been the one staying in the cote for the last few nights so not surprising no eggs! (not that I want eggs in Feb) but he didn’t stay last night, and Tommy did for some reason. I like it when they stay as they are safe here. Tommy has also stayed tonight, I just glanced out of the window and saw his tail as he popped into his bed. When I was cleaning the cote, I realised he is using the back corner of his nestbox as a latrine, so I cleaned it out and put in a piece of newspaper!!

Sunday 22nd Feb 15 – It’s going well with the majority of the afternoon flock going over to the island to be fed.

 The bridge to the island
 The swirling water that I don't want to fall into!

 Above, a couple of brave pidgies, and below, the rest gather on the house

 The date on part of the bridge - hubbie replaced the wood walkway
 Come on pidgies...... and below, flying back from the island

There are far fewer birds in the morning, and they still get fed in the garden, mainly on the patio and one of the reasons for this is that if the weather is frosty, I am not inclined to walk over the potentially slippery bridge. Another reason is that I have less time in the mornings. The white doves are far less inclined to fly to the island – Tommy came over today, with Fleur and an unknown white dove, but Lucky, Loretta, Grace and Dolly don’t want to. In fact, Lucky seemed quite affronted – he expect meals served promptly on the table or patio, at times to suit himself. And of course he will always be fed, as will my other old favourites – I have so few known white doves left, and had some very sad moments at the morning feed missing my birds. All those funny little characters and personalities just wiped out, gone – I still can hardly believe it.

I finished cleaning the cote today – it looks better, acceptable, but still needs painting. I wish I’d done it at the end of August or September last year when SW and Charm had finished breeding.

My three homies are all females and attract a certain amount of male attention. Today I saw Chino billing on the ground with a pigeon, then surprisingly they mated.... but this was just a ‘one minute stand’ – poor little Chino!

Lucky and Loretta hid in the cote together this afternoon when the weather turned grey, rainy and blustery, but flew away together at 4pm, leaving Tommy, in charge, staying in his compartment. I didn’t see Claro at all today – maybe he has decided that Tommy is supreme.

24.2.15 – Oh happy day! I was just about to go out the door shopping when I saw a ringed white dove on the patio.... red and yellow rings...... it took a while for my brain to work out that it was my Autumn! I was ecstatic to see her! - and pleased to get a photo.....

I had thought she had been roosting with the doves involved in the cull, but obviously, and thankfully, not!  There was absolutely no doubt that this was Autumn – she is always a little grubby or bedgraggled looking and has one slightly lower or dragging wing, which is the result of an injury quite a long time ago now. Autumn has always been a bird who has come and gone - the last time I marked something about her on my dovie calendar was on Sat 10th Jan, when I put ‘Autumn back’ and noted that I had seen her previously at the end of October. She was still around a week later on 17th Jan, but by the 23rd I had written ‘No Autumn’. The cull happened some time around 27th-29th Jan so it’s not surprising that I thought she might have been caught up in it. I am so glad and grateful that she wasn’t, as she is my oldest known surviving dove who was hatched in my cote. She is now nearly two years and seven months old and was hatched at the end of July ’12 – the offspring of Sky and Summer.

 This is Autumn, and her sibling, Spring, when I brought them in to ring about 16th Aug 12  You can see Spring's green ring in the top photo - so Autumn is of course the other one!

And above, about a week after ringing, Autumn on the right

I haven't been happy about Chino's makeshift accommodation in the conservatory, and eventually got her a crate like the others. Her own house!

 Cissie, grey and Cloud, white
 Then joined by Chino, brown
 My 'homies'

I haven't been happy about Chino's makeshift accommodation in the conservatory, and eventually got her a crate like the others. Her own house! - you can just see her feet!

 A pigeon housing estate!

25.2.15 - A sweet little pair of pale brown collared doves came down to eat on the patio - I didnt manage a very good photo, but it was lovely to see them. They are shy birds and won't mix in with the ordinary doves and pigeons.

26.2.15 -
 See the big pigeon in the middle of the photo above? That's my Silver Shadow - you can see how big he is below - almost looks like a silver eagle!! He is twice the size of the usual pigeons and extremely beautiful - stunning in fact. Silver grey and iridescent purple. He has always been friendly, though came out of nowhere, and will eat peanuts from my hand.
272.15 - Today I saw my Grace- who will fly to my hand for peanuts - walking around the patio with a fine stick in her beak. At first I thought it had somehow got attached to her.....

 So I went out to see if I could help..... but then I realised she wanted to hold it!
 It was her special stick and no-one was going to take it away!
 She flew to the roof with it.....

 Oh no, where's it gone!
But eventually lost interest.... what was all that about, Grace?!!!

It's that time of year again, and all the female birds get attention.....

Above, Claro chases Cloud, and below, Cissie receives a courting gentleman at her door!

Lucky and Loretta

.To be cont....