The doves all fly away at night, or rather they come and go during the day and I didn't really know where they spent their nights and time away from here. Now I've found out!
The very night that Victory and Purity celebrated their 9 week old birthday they didn't come back to sleep in the dovecote. Big doves now! They decided to be in with the in crowd and go off with the rest of the flock, leaving a sad me and an empty dovecote. They are now over 11 weeks old, and I see them at feeding times, or when they choose to spend time in the garden.
Purity, left, and Victory searching for grains on the lawn
Purity and Victory often stay together when they are eating
Playing hide and seek round the pots!
And Victory looks up at the pot thinking 'I wonder if there is something yummy in there?' I have already had to move a pink as the doves kept pecking off the buds.
We went to a BBQ at a local farm recently. My husband had often mentioned that the farmer had a lot of doves in his barn and that maybe they were mine, but I didn't really think about it as I assumed my doves spent their nights on a much nearer farm. At the BBQ, as the sun started to go down, the farmer pointed to the sky and said 'They're coming in now' and I could see a flock of white doves flying over the fields. It's a beautiful sight on a warm tranquil evening. Of course I hadn't got my camera with me! I asked the farmer to take me to see where the doves were roosting, and whilst we walked round he told me that, initially, he had tried to prevent the doves getting in the barn by putting up wire, shutting doors etc but they always got in and now he doesn't bother. 'They make a mess' he said cheerfully 'But so do the horses!' He also said that despite the mess, he likes them, so it looks like they have a home for life!
As soon as we got to the barn - which is actually a metal building erected to use as an indoor schooling area for ponies, with sand on the ground, I saw Nero sitting outside. There is no way that I could mistake him as he has such distinctive dark colouring and orange and green rings. 'That's my Nero!' I gasped. I hadn't really believed til then that the doves would fly so far, though actually it's only about 10 minutes in the car down lanes, and probably quicker cross country as the doves fly. 'No, he's my Nero!' joked the farmer. 'You don't feed him' I teased 'He's mine!' ... 'Ah,' said the farmer 'But I give him lodging, and all his mates too!'
This is Nero - on my lawn. He really is MY Nero, as Bob Friar gave him to me!
Initally, when he was trying to keep the doves out of the barn, the farmer had kindly made them a wall dovecote and stuck in on the outside. Of course they don't use it! They much prefer the sheltered warm accomodation inside, with lots of roosting space and a soft landing for their babies when they fledge.
I took a camera up another day, and took some photos, but couldn't see Nero or any other of my ringed doves.
The wall cote that the farmer put up and the doves ignore, and inside, a dove searching for sticks on the sandy floor. I watched it collecting little twigs, and flying up to give them to the female in the nest.
Doves in the rafters, and one on her messy nest - sorry I couldn't get a better photo of this.
Two friends visit a nest, and another two, cosy together - this was the one where the male was collecting the sticks. I counted five nests in the barn.
Enlarge this photo by clicking on it and see how many doves you can see - there are more than you think! The second photo is a dove in my garden.
So, I'm happy that my lovely dovies have a safe home and that, at last, I know where they really do go at night.The end (you may have to scroll down for the comments section).