This blog is just a general update, more for me than for anyone reading!
There seems to be two small feral flocks. Pinkie's flock is named after Pinkie who I have mentioned before. Pinkie is the tamest dove out of all who visit my garden. She is definitely female as I have seen her being 'courted' (but not mated). She wears a thick bright pink ring, so is easily recognisable and obviously someone else at some time ringed her.
I go out to feed the doves at 7.30 am in the morning. Pinkie and her flock are usually waiting for me, on the roof or the lawn. They walk and fly towards me, which is gratifying, and I always wear my bright turquoise dressing gown as I read in my dove book that pigeon fanciers keep a special coat that they put on when they go into their lofts so the pigeons recognise them. One day when it was pouring recently I put my white coat over my dressing gown and the doves didn't come down to feed until I had gone away. I scoop up their food from a metal bin near the house into an old blue plastic round washing up bowl that used to belong to my mother and then I collect their feeding trays from the shed kitchen where I leave them overnight. I take any food left over in at dusk, and clear the table of stray grain to discourage rats, as we have had problems with them in the past.
I set the trays on the big garden table that I use as a feeding station and start filling them. Pinkie is always the first to fly down, while I am still filling the trays. She is a big, confident dove and will start eating and the others quickly follow, fluttering down around me - but not too close! Two or three will often stay on the roof until I move away. I read an interesting article about how one bird will watch over the flock, taking the role of sentry while the others eat, and this does seem to happen here. Often one dove will stay on top of the roof, scanning the sky. I also stay close for the morning feed to discourage the hawk. And keep away the magpies, the squirrel, the pheasant and the jackdaws who like to take over the table.
I also scatter food for the little garden birds on the edge of the table and nearby ground.
Then I move a short distance away and watch them; always checking their feet for rings, in the hope that I might see John, or Columba - who came back at Easter - or even Pax. And now also for Angel.
I came out of the kitchen door just as the hawk was tussling with the dove almost in front of me - it was all so quick that it was impossible to really see. The hawk flew off and the dove sort of hopped to shelter - the coal bunker again - and got stuck. I picked her up very gently, holding her wings close against her body and she had blood on her. My husband came and terribly gently stretched out her wings to see if they were ok. We felt she was frightened and scratched more than badly hurt and put her, with food and water, in the dog travelling box 'hospital' for the night to recuperate. If I have a poorly dove I always put the box up high in the shed, and make sure the door is firmly shut.
The next morning, early, I brought the box out of the shed and Angel appeared keen to get out as she several times tried to batter down the grille door. I carefully removed her and ringed her - not an easy feat without assistance. I would have waited for my husband to come home and help, but felt it wasn't fair to Angel. I had to use a pink ring but it doesnt show up well against a dove's pink feet. I don't know why they make them pink and white! My last selection were pink, white, green, orange, yellow and purple. Red and blue would be more sensible than pink and white.
I put Angel onto the feeding table and she walked about and fluffed up her wings a little, and then tried to fly ..... and couldn't! She fluttered to the ground and spent the next couple of hours, hiding near the hedge or sitting on a very low perch we have at the bottom of the dovecote.
Eventually she seemed to have got her head together and flew away, buI haven't seen her since then. I don't blame her for not wanting to visit the garden where the claws of death might be waiting.
Pinkie is probably the leader of her morning flock, and often the only one that I can recognise amongst them all - the rest being totally white.
Chess's flock come in the afternoon and are less tame. Chess, so named by my daughter, as he has beautifully marked black feathers in his tail, is definitely male as I have seen him displaying courting behaviour. I don't think he is the leader of the flock, but he is one I can recognise easily. Sometime Liquorice, a dark feathered dove, is there too, and another one similar to Chess with dark tail feathers.
There are about a dozen doves in each little flock, and sometimes in the afternoons they are all there together, sunning themselves on the roof. I often have individual doves just turn up for a quick feed when the main groups are elsewhere, or sometimes a pair will stay for the afternoon or a small group of three or four.
I had really been thinking about homing another flock of my own - say 6 doves - next Spring, but now after the attack on Angel I am wavering again.
A dove came to the table a week or so ago, and appeared to have what looked like an egg between its legs. I managed to get a photo - see what you think. (If you click on it, it should enlarge) I started worrying that it was some sort of horrible tumour, but my husband said it was obviously just an egg, that had got stuck (with *hit as glue - nice!) and would no doubt soon get crushed. How weird though!
There's always something interesting to see!