7 Feb 2010
I have not written about the doves since the end of November. I wish I had as now the little time I had with the 'After Doves' is over.
Probably the farmer as been busy with his gun again. I can think of no other explanation for the fact that now I have just three white doves, and no coloured ones, visiting.
The little After flock, visiting me from November to January, numbered sometimes as many as fourteen white doves, but on a day to day basis was usually about eight white and some others I particularly recognised including the beautiful speckled Dalmation dove. I enjoyed and fed them all through the hard snowy weather. I cleared a large circular patch of grass, and swept it every day to keep the snow off. Doves are cautious creatures and don't like anything different; they didn't like landing on the snow or even the grassy patch I made, but of course they had to - to eat!
My usual lap top has died and is off at the menders so I haven't even got a pictures of that poor little flock to show you, and I can't work this laptop properly, so can't drop the pics into the text!
One visiting pigeon I called Lady Jane Grey, after my internet friend Jane Grey - see my side panel to see her YouTube series of photos of her lovely woodpigeon, Hope. Lady Jane Grey seemed to escape this second dove slaughter and is shown here with a surviving white, but now she is nowhere to be seen - perhaps flown off to find more pigeons to flock with? I hope so.
Peace also was seen after the others had vanished. This is my last photo of her - I hope she didn't go back to the farm, but I fear she did. It really is so upsetting and there is nothing I can do. I hate it when I can't do anything positive.
Now, no doves greet me in the mornings. My roof tops that were once lined with doves are empty, and if it wasn't for my cheeky, hungry robin I would feel bird-friendless. There were four white doves visiting, but one got poorly and spent more time on the ground. I soon saw he had some damage to his beak; it was permanently slightly open and crossed - see the photos above. For the first few days, he managed to eat if I gave him a deep pot of grain, by shovelling it in. He couldn't pick up individual grains from the ground. He lost strength and couldn't fly after a while, so I kept him in my hospital box at night and set him free for the day. When he couldn't eat at all, I couldn't bear it and took him to the vets to be put to sleep as I didn't want him to suffer by starving to death. I left him at the vets in the box to be seen by my lovely vet as soon as he had time, but they rang me to say he'd died before that could happen. Poor little thing. I didn't even name him.
So now they are just three white doves visiting my garden. I think they come from some way away as they don't arrive til 11.30 am at the earliest and mostly after noon. Two are a pair as I've seen them mating and how I wish they'd set up home in my dovecote like Hope and Glory did. That was only last year but seems much longer ago. A life time ago. I so loved having my babies, Victory and Purity... even getting up early to put them back in the nest when Hope was leaving them all night. It was a very special time.
I try to be around when the three arrive so I can feed them. I can't just leave food down as there are hordes of hungry woodpigeons and jackdaws, plus at least two pheasants and squirrels. During the hour of my RSPB Birdwatch I listed 17 woodpigeons together, and I have seen as many as 25 together at one time in my garden. I think the doves are well fed, they don't seem starving and probably only come for the peanuts I throw, which are a treat!
Now, am I mad but I'm thinking of starting again with a new set of doves? Before that can happen, I will have to repaint the cote - it's now nearly four years since I bought it and rather grubby with a tinge of green. My husband thinks maybe we should re-site it, so that is under consideration too. I need to find someone who can sell me some doves, and a homing net. Many dove sellers only want to sell to those who have bought their dovecote. I got mine from Kootensaw, but feel their doves are pretty expensive, considering they breed so easily and rapidly. A breeding pair can have 8-10 pairs of squabs a year, apparently. Not that mine ever did!
The garden truly seems empty and lifeless to me without the doves but I dread getting new ones just to be sparrowhawk fodder. Another internet friend, Yan, lost three of her beautiful doves to the hawk and ended up giving the last one away to someone who keeps his birds in an aviary rather than see it swooped on and carried off.
So, what do you think? Start again? or not..... I think you know what I will do!