Sat. 4th April 09
Part 2 - Please read Part 1 in the blog below this one.
Last Thursday the baby doves, the squabs were 14 and 13 days old and all was fine. I was looking forward to taking a photo of them on their 2 week birthday. In the morning I noticed a dove enter the nest box in the dovecote and instinct told me that it was not Hope. I went to the kitchen door and saw that Hope, who was actually already inside, chuck the intruder out! I wondered if it was the same dove who had caused trouble for Hope and Glory a while ago (see Altercation in the Dovecote blog)
Then Hope and the intruder suddenly started fighting on the hedge below the dovecote, whirling and tumbling over and over. I grabbed my camera and took the following photos.
I went nearer the cote and Hope flew up and sat blocking the entrance to her nest, while the other dove went in one of the other dovecote holes.
They kept peeking round at each other and it would have seemed quite cute in different circumstances.
I kept watch and eventually some doves came down to the lawn and Hope went with them and then they all flew away - Hope included. I stayed watching and shortly afterwards a dove went to the nest box and I was pretty sure it wasn't Hope. I got the stepladder and peered inside and wasn't sure what was going on. I took one quick photo.
My instinct told me that this dove wasn't Hope and that it was going to damage the babies; it seemed they were being trampled on. I had to make up my mind and act quickly. My hands were shaking and I was very upset, but I reached in and scooped it out, holding it very firmly indeed. It was feisty and strong and totally resistant to being held but I managed to get it confined in the dove 'hospital' box. It definitely wasn't Hope, being smaller and not having her pink cochineal mark. Leaving the rascal shut up, I went to look at the babies. They were hunched and miserable, facing away from the light, and as far back into the nestbox as they could get themselves, but I couldn't see any definite signs of hurt, and I had been very quick getting the intruder out.
Firstly I got the intruder food and water. I wondered if it was a young male intent on killing Glory's offspring and having Hope for himself, or a young female somehow wanting to take over the nest. I had to go out as I had an appointment and didn't want to let the other people down. I came back more than two hours later, and no doves were around, and no Hope - but that was not unusual for the time of day. I put the stepladder up and peeped at the babies - they seemed fine and had turned around and were facing the light.
I took their 2 week old photo!
By late lunchtime Hope was back in the cote and feeding them, and then she sat calmly looking out of the nest box window. I was so relieved!
Hope may have been calm, but I was not - my insides, ridiculously, felt wobbly all day! I didn't know what to do with the intruder for a start.
Hope spent the day as usual and I saw her feed the babies at 5pm and 7pm, also much as usual. I felt we had got over the crisis point. The sun was going down, it was getting chilly, and Hope seemed settled in the nestbox. I was preparing supper thinking my dramas were over for the day. I had previously emailed my two dove blokes - Bob Friar and Dave Frost, and both had come back with reassuring messages telling me I'd done the right thing by taking the interloper out of the nest. Everyone at Purplecoo had also been extremely kind and supportive.
And then sometime after 7pm, I saw Hope just fly out of the cote, over the roof and away!
It was getting darker, and colder and I had no idea whether she would come back or what to do if she didn't!
To be cont...