The Doves This Summer
My husband thinks that the doves wreck the lawn. I don't agree. I think it was the dry weather we had in June that dried out patches of the lawn. He suggested that I feed the doves on the island, and I mulled over this idea in my head. There are pros and cons, but the biggest pro is that if I want to try again with my own new flock next year, which I do, then I need to get the feral flock feeding away from the dovecote. So the pros and cons are
Husband can't complain doves wreck the lawn if they are not on it!
It doesn't matter how much they 'wreck' the island as it is rough grass.
The feral flock will be feeding well away from the dovecote which will have to be covered with a homing net when we get our own new flock.
As they will be feeding on the island, out of my sight, I won't feel like running out to feed them so often, so they will finish all the bits of feed they don't particularly like (saving money).
They may be more protected from the hawk on the island as it is quite small and a fair amount of it is covered by the tree, thus blocking hawk's vision and downward swoop.
When the lawn treatment people come I won't have to be so worried that the doves are eating the stuff they put down to feed the lawn.
I won't see the ferals feeding and bathing on the lawn in front of me. Big con.
I will have to traipse over the rickety bridge to the island at least twice a day, rain or shine, to feed them.... ok in the summer, dodgy in the winter.
If anyone else feeds the doves for me, like my neighbour, he will have to go over the rickety bridge.
Getting the doves to feed on the island might be tricky.
Anyway, I decided that , in the long term, it would benefit me if I could move the ferals feeding place to the island so I told husband that I agreed to his suggestion, but he must give me time to get the doves used to it.
I started by moving the doves feeding pans every day a little further down the lawn. This was fine while we were in the open expanse of the lawn in front of the house. Every morning the hungry doves fly down to me and of course they could see where I had moved the pans to. Then
we got to the narrow bit under the arch which goes into a smaller patch of lawn in front of the conservatory. They didnt like going through the arch for some reason, but of course, hunger driven, they did. The next bit was even trickier - the narrow grass path between the flower bed and the conservatory, opening onto another small patch of lawn with the washing line in it. Again they accepted it, although it was a nuisance for the day or so while they were on the narrow grass path.
They liked the washing line and happily sat on it, like little white socks blowing in the breeze, waiting for me to fill the pans. Of course, rather inconvenient for me as I couldnt risk using the line and having nasty additions to my clean washing!
Then I had the major problem of getting them fron the garden to the island. They did not like this one bit. The gate to the bridge to the island is mostly shut (and padlocked) to prevent anyone coming over to the garden from the other side of the river. Now I wanted to keep it open to show the doves where I was putting the pans, but it was a hazard to my little dog who is intrigued by the island and quite capable of trip-trapping over the bridge, and maybe falling in! The bridge is only wooden planks with gaps between. I sorted this problem by putting a piece of wood across the gateway,
The doves were still resistant despite being hungry. I put pans on the bridge, loose grain on the bridge, pans on the island, loose grain on the island wall... but no they wouldnt cross over. Pathetically they watched me from their vantage points on the top of the house, the washing line and their slip-slidy positions on the conservatory roof. I was firm and kept calling them, and throwing more (imaginery) grain down to tempt them and eventually one or two bold ones came fluttering round me, and the others followed.
The whole process took about a week, and now the doves are very comfortable with the new arrangement, and although I miss feeding them on the lawn I am looking forward to getting a new flock of my own next Spring. We will get six this time. Last time I started with four,one pair had babies very quickly so we had six, but it will be better to have three pairs to start with. I have already started thinking about names, and when it comes to the time I will choose one name from Purplecooers suggestions.
Over the summer the flock has increased and today 16th Aug '08 I counted about 65 feral doves. It's getting too many by far, but I try to only put out the same amount of food. Some of the doves are a bit scruffy - maybe they are coming in from a distance for the food. Sometime during the summer the feral pigeons were culled in my local town-that-likes-to-call-itself-a-village. I knew immediately that it had been done because, to me, the town seemed quieter and less cheerful. When I was up in my Pilates class in second-floor studio I looked out and saw two dead pigeons on a flat roof, confirming my suspicions - they hadnt been gathered up after the cull. It makes me sad though I can understand why it is done. Pigeons do make a terrible mess, especially when breeding under the eaves etc and old buildings have many hidey holes. I think some of the feral pigeons who escaped the cull have joined up with the feral white doves. I'm seeing many more grey and coloured ones now.
Doves on the island as seen through the garden fence!