Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Not just doves

18th August 2009

Although less doves are visiting en masse I have calculated that there are probably approx. 40-50 visiting. The most pure whites I have seen together at any one time is 22 (browns 6 and greys 9). Nero is still definitely missing - he is so distinctive that I can pick him out anywhere, His mate, Messalina, is still missing too - hopefully they are together and haven't been destroyed. The town I live in is quite hot on culling pigeons. There used to be a large flock on Sainsbury's roof that one day just vanished; as did the pigeons on the roofs in the town. A little flock of 10 has crept back to Sainsbury's and already are making their presence felt with feathers and mess on the ground near the trollies, so I reckon their days are numbered, poor things. I was watching them as there was one very dark one and I wondered if it was Nero, but of course it wasn't. He's much too refined to live on Sainsbury's roof!

So, no Nero but I have seen Victory again - thank goodness - and it is definitely him/her as his pink and green rings are on the correct legs. He only seems to come in the afternoons though, yet I see Purity at all times of the day .... strange! Peace only comes in the afternoons too.

I went up to Pig Farm to see the nests again. There now seems to be a group of 'teenager' type squabs all hanging up the roof. They got very excited when a parent bird flew in to give food and were all tumbling over each. One of my books does say that if a squab is orphaned it will try to get food from another parent bird and often succeeds and I did wonder if that was what was happening here. I suppose it is in the interests of the flock as a whole if a parent bird was to feed orphaned babies.

My husband and I had reason to go to another local farm recently, and I noticed a dead - long dead actually and in 'pieces' - pigeon on the ground. It was ringed so I noted the number and contacted the Royal Pigeon Racing Association to report it as the number prefix was GB. If the number prefix had been NPA I would have known to report it to the National Pigeon Association. There are other prefixes - all of which can be found here - http://www.rpra.org/Home/tabid/53/Default.aspx By the way, if you find a 'lost' racing pigeon, it may hang around for a few days to rest but will then usually get on its way. Only contain it if it is injured or at risk from a predator. If you do find one that needs looking after, then give it food and water and the owner will be pleased to be contacted so he can arrange collection. What food to give it? - pigeons eat grain so wild bird seed if you have it or failing that bread I suppose. Small quantities of pigeon food can be purchased at most pet shops. I buy whole sacks of it @ the current cost of £15.99 for a 25kg sack. My preferred brand is made by De Scheemaecker Bros. which I find much the best of those I've tried. But back to the ringed pigeon, I reported it using the special form on the webpage and giving my email address and I was soon contacted back with thanks and the info that the bird had originally come from Deptford (about 20 miles away). A few days later the original owner rang me to thank me too. He said he had lost quite a few birds at that time as it was a very hot spell.

(My favourite grain, and the dovecote at The Jenny Wren Farm, Birdworld, Nr. Farnham)

I've been to Birdworld in Hampshire several times this summer (I'm a member) http://www.birdworld.co.uk/ It's a lovely bird park, very well kept with neat gardens and a super little farm, with a dovecote. The doves of course fly wherever they please all over the park and turn up in unexpected places!

And I've adopted a bird for the year! It has the most beautiful plumage and is a Rufous Crowned Roller or Purple Roller from South Africa. He now has my name on his cage - I hate that word 'cage' for birds but Birdworld do release birds back to the wild if possible.

Plenty of other beautiful and interesting birds at Birdworld too,....

Pigeons love peanuts so I thought I'd try to get some feeding out of my hand. I miss Eagle Eye from last summer who always flew up to my hand on the island. I've managed to tame a big male whom I call Spartacus and he now comes up to where I'm sitting on the grass and eats his treats.
The end.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The doves have deserted me!

8th August 2009

I keep a very rough garden notebook and jot down info about the doves, so I know that on the 8th of July I was seeing a flock of just under 50 doves (and the coloured pigeons that visit are included in that number) yet by the time I came back from a few days away I noted on 24th Julyu that there were only about 25. They were definitely fed while I was away so that's not the reason. One particular morning I went out to feed them and there were only TWO waiting on the roof - instead of the large flock I am used to. That day those two were Nero and Messalina (see previous blog) and that was probably the last time I have seen them. Neither are visiting at any time of the day for food and I went up to Pig Farm and they do not appear to have a nest there. I do hope I see my exquisite Nero, my beautiful black boy again. You wouldn't think you could miss a bird, but I do - very much. And I am also missing my March squab, Victory. I haven't seen her (I think she's a her) for several weeks. Purity, Elizabeth's God-dove, is still arriving for food every day, thank goodness and also Sweetie, who I caught and ringed last year. I suspect she may have a nest but I don't know where.

There are several nests up at Pig Farm, and the little squabs I saw last time I went up are now much bigger and more vocal. The top picture shows a couple of squabs probably about 4 weeks old. They move about freely on the shelf area that is obviously behind the red metal rafter. The second photo shows them cuddled up together, and a large squab or more probably a parent dove in a nest in the next 'house' along. Doves like to live together.

The day my mother died, 24th July, my sister rang me in the morning and I went down to Sussex to help. I arrived back in the early evening having been out all day. We have a three bedroomed cottage and now the girls are gone, two bedrooms are empty, though I use them for clothes and other things. There are chimneys in all the bedrooms, and we have had doves down them before. Recently I removed two bodies from one (closed) chimney and this upset me very much, so I have removed the metal plates that close the chimneys to at least give a dove-down- -the-chimney a fighting chance! Anyway, that evening I did go into one of the bedrooms and noticed a little soot and grit in the fireplace, but I was tired and didn't think much of it. The next morning my husband and I were having breakfast in the sitting room and he remarked 'There's a dove in our bedroom' - as the door was closed I wondered how he knew, but there are slight cracks in the wood panels of the door and when I got up to look, yes there was a dove in our bedroom! Firstly I assumed it had flown in through the open window, but doves are not like the little robins and blue-tits that frequently fly into the house and I remembered the soot in the hearth from yesterday. She had obviously hidden overnight, and then walked through and ended up in our room. We caught and ringed the dove (yellow and red rings) and set her free - poor thing, she seemed dazed for a while and then made straight for the water bath to have a drink. Hopefully, she wasn't too dehydrated - doves only drink a couple of times a day. Then I checked the spare room out again and in the gap between the bed and the wall there was a pile of droppings on the carpet. She had come down the chimney on the day Mummy died and been there overnight. We named her Peace, as Mummy's name, Irene, means Peace (from the Greek) - see http://www.behindthename.com/ for the etymology and history of first names - an interesting site.

I know Peace is a female as I have seen a ringed male (not one of mine) courting her - and she is still visiting (though he is not!) unlike Sooty who came down the same chimney 19th Sept. 08 (see last year's blogs, prob. Sept.Oct for her story and pics).

However, I don't despair about any the missing doves - they often reappear unexpectedly. On the 9th July I was surprised to see a white dove with an orange ring on it's left foot and did wonder if it was my beloved Pax - one of my first four doves and my first breeding male. I haven't seen him again since, but I do hope it was him, coming to say hello.

The only explanations that I can think of for the lack of doves is many are nesting so I don't see them all together, there is plenty of food in the fields as it is summer and/or the flock split as it was too big. I don't blame the sparrowhawks for such a large decrease.

I have uploaded two montages of photos with music to YouTube - thanks to Jane Grey for help there. If you haven't seen her beautiful Hope in Paris sequence of pictures (baby woodpigeon) then click on her name on my list of followers and you will see the link below - well worth a visit. My own selections of photos are titled 'A Pure White Dove' and 'White Doves Bathing'. When I work out how to put a link from YouTube to my blog I will do so! The end.