Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Another Rescue + continuing Hugo's story

Sat 11 June 2011

Flash was definitely on the nest today, and so I assume there must be eggs, which is great news!

I ringed another white dove today - pink ring - and called him Ice. It's fairly easy to catch the doves at the moment, and Ice is one of the morning peanut eaters. I caught him by putting a few peanuts on the doorstep, some just inside the door and some in the kitchen. He just walked straight in, I shut the door quickly and caught him. He is none the worse and still comes each morning to eat peanuts from my hand (since then I've caught and ringed another - Bianco - green ring)

At night now Jose goes in the hutch and seems to have accepted the situation and doesnt look longingly at the cote, and Omo is on the nest. Females always do the long night shift! Flash doesnt stay the night, which is strange considering there is plenty of space in other compartments of the cote.

Tuesday 14th June - Hugo the jackdaw has been with us for one week today! See photo at the top of the blog. We celebrated by giving him a shiny yellow ring.

He has definitely got bigger in the last week and so I took the box out of his garden cage to give him more room and made him a perch by poking my mother's old cobweb duster stick through his cage (that would've made her chuckle!)

It was a lovely warm day and Flash had a bath while his wife, Omo, was sitting on their eggs. His mistress, Jose, sat on the bath rim and watched him! Flash definitely considers Jose his property. Naughty Chocolate Brownie was courting her again, and Flash saw him off in no uncertain terms! When he's in the garden he spends most of his time with her, and saves her from hassle, but the chancers are always there when he has to go back to nest duty.

Flash on left, Jose on the right

I mostly go to Claremont National Trust garden on Tuesdays to see the flock of doves there and walk round the lake. I take up a bucket of grain and peanuts for them. You can see from the photo that the doves have a lot of competition for the food!
I saw one particular dove first at the lakeside where a mother and small child were feeding the ducks with bread, and this one was at their feet trying to get any falling crubs. It was the only dove there, and I thought then that it had a brown face, almost rusty looking. I threw it a few grains and then walked round to where the main flock normally comes down to feed. The doves quickly surround me and then I noticed the brown face dove again. It was reacting much more slowly than the other doves and I realised it must have had a horrific injury to its face as the brown was actually blood! Up close, I could see one of its eyes was closed too and it was in a dreadful state. I easily picked it up, it felt quite cold in my hands, and I put it in my flat-bottomed hessian bag and left the garden immediately to drive straight home. The dove stayed quietly in the bottom of the bag. Once at home I wrapped it in a towel so I could examine its face. Not a pretty sight.

Maybe she flew slap bang into something? I do know from my St John Ambulance days that a small amount of blood smeared around can look pretty worrying but is in fact only from a small injury, and where there's life there's hope!
I bathed the dove's closed eye and offered it a drink by gently dipping its beak into a deep pot of water. After a few tries, it ook a sip or two, and I thought, good! Like Jose (also rescued from Claremont) it was choosing to live! I ringed it with a red ring, and called her Rusty.

There wasnt much more I could so I shut poor damaged Rusty in the hospital box with food and water, and every hour or so through the day I took her carefully out and tried to get her to drink. She stayed in the box, shut up in the conservatory, next to Hugo that night - the dark sheet draped over both their boxes.

The next morning Rusty was stil alove. I truly hadn't thought she would make it, she looked so bad, and had felt cold to the touch, but she was alive and her closed eye was now open. I let her out of the box and onto the garden table where she helped herself to drinks and I offered her peanuts and grains. She seemed to be able to pick up the peanuts more easily than the small grains and whole peanuts seemed easier than ones I had broken for her, but she also seemed to 'bring back' some of them. I wasn't at all sure how much she was eating and wondered if her throat was damaged but I knew she had more of a chance now with me giving her as much as she wanted, than she would have had at Claremont where all the birds fight for the food. Rusty seemed much happier out of the box, so I put her on top of Jose's hutch with food and water where I felt she would be partly hidden by the tree, but would still be free.

She stayed there for a very long time but when something happened to make the doves take flight from the lawn, she flew up to the top of the dovecote and from there to the roof, where she stayed all day.

Rusty on top of the cote - you can just see Flash or Omo inside

I hoped to be able to put her safely in the box for the night again and luckily my little plan in the early evening of throwing peanuts worked; several doves flew down, including Rusty, and I was able to catch her again. She stayed inthe box in the conservatory but I let Hugo be free for the first time and he roosted up on the metal support rail.

I ordered some live meal worms and they arrived this morning. Not my favourite sort of thing, but I wanted to get Hugo used to seeing and eating live food. They came from and I was very happy with them - they were delivered super-fast, alive, plump and juicy-looking! but no care instructions so I just left them in the sack things they came in - in the shed kitchen. Hugo seemed to like them and the robin was also very pleased with me for the treat! (p.s. 2 weeks later many of those that are left are still alive - they had newspaper and some sort of 'feed' possibly with them, a bran like substance?)

Thursday 16th June - I caught Hugo with great difficulty this morning - remember he was free in the conservatory - and put him in the garden cage. My husband thinks he is big enough to be set free, and I am inclined to agree. It was never my intention to keep him for ever, that would be cruel, but I wanted to make sure he could fly well and hopefully fend for himself and find food before I let him go. I think he was too old when I got him to attach himself (imprint) to me and probably that is just as well.

Rusty seemed a lot better today. Her body was warmer and she seemed to 'cough back' fewer peanuts. Maybe her beak or throat has improved but anyway they are staying down and she can peck more easily. She stayed on the roof again all day, coming down about twice with the main flock for food. Funnily enough she seemed to remember her water pot was on the garden table so she came to drink from that, inside of drinking from the doves bath or the low dish on the lawn. I couldnt catch her for the night, and she flew off with the others before 7pm. A bit later it occured to me that maybe she hadnt flown off but was spending the night on the other side of the roof, or part of the building beyond. These old buildings are used as office so when I was sure all the office people had left I wandered round into their car park and saw a small group of five white doves had settled there, and Rusty was one of them - her face still so streaked with blood that it was possible to pick her out even from the ground. Maybe those other doves always spent the night there, I must admit it must be months or years since I had even thought of going to have a look! Luckily they had accpeted Rusty stayed the night with them too and I was pleased she wasn't all huddled up on a cold windowsill all by herself! I wondered if Flash was in the group too, but I couldnt see his tail or blue ring.

Friday 17th - Hugo had been loose in the conservatory for the night, with a dish of meal worms and water on the table and on the floor. In the morning I peeped in and saw him eating on the table so I was glad he'd had some breakfast as I felt today would probably be bye-bye day! The weather forecast wasnt good and I would've preferred to have kept him for another few days, but I couldn't catch him in the conservatory and it can keep extremely hot in there, so I opened the doors and fixed them wide open, waiting to see what he would do. Precisely nothing! He sat on the rail and just observed, but after a while he could hear the other jackdaws 'Cak!' and a knowing look came into his blue eyes. I got tired of watching him and went to do other things but popping back occasionally to see if he was still there. Half an hour after I'd opened the doors he had gone, and I didn't see him go. I felt a small sense of loos, but glad I'd helped him to survive. I haven't seen him since.

The end.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Wonderful News - Part I

From the ground, Jose watches the NEW doves in her cote

June 2011

On Saturday 4th June, completely out of the blue, several doves become interested in the dovecote. One was the white male with the black streak in his tail - Flash, I call him, and he's one of the doves that has mated with Jose, although she did seem to prefer another totally white male. Also keen to view were a pair of doves, one white and one more of a pigeon being brown and white (and ringed I think, but not by me). For several hours they fluttered round the cote, popping in and out of all the little compartments, and back and forth to the nearby roof.

Soon it became obvious that Flash and his new white mate were not going to let the brown and white pair get a look in. They wanted the cote and they were going to have it! Of course I wondered what would happen at bedtime when I put Jose to bed in the cote. Depending on how light the evening is, I put Jose to bed about 7-8pm - if this is the first blog you have read, I'll just tell you that Jose can't fly and that's why she can't put herself to bed! (see previous blogs).

Checking out the cote

Portrait of Flash and his new love

But at bedtime Flash and his mate were tucked up together in the top side compartment facing the hutch, so I popped Jose into her normal place, and waited to see what would happen.

Flash and mate came out of their place, where they had seemed very cosy, and flew off, but within a short time they were back and one flew into Jose's bit. I observed from the path - the bird had Jose by the back of the neck and was aggressively pecking her, so I ran up my step ladder and dragged it out. It was the male, Flash, and he was strong and feisty. My husband ringed him for me with a blue ring. I like the ring the doves for easy identification, although it would've been handier if we had caught the female, as Flash is already distinctive with his black streaked tail. I let him go straight after ringing and he flew away, so I put Jose back in the dovecote. This time the female chucked her out, though less aggressively, so I gave in and put Jose in the hutch for the night. Having made the cote their own, the new pair didnt stay the night! Poor Jose! I have a list of names I like for doves but the next set of names I wanted to use were gentle ones and didn't fit the fighter Flash and his lady, so as he was Flash already in my mind, I decided not to change his name and settled for Omo for his mate!

Sunday 5th June - Flash and Omo were around the garden again this morning, Flash busily collecting sticks. They couldn't seem to decide which compartment of the cote to use, but in the end Flash decided on the one that all the doves I've ever had have preferred for their nest box - luckily this is the one facing the house, so as I sit in my chair, say typing this blog on the laptop, I can just glance out of the window and see what's going on. Both Flash and Omo seemed ok with Jose, even spending time with her on her table, and Flash mating with her when Omo's back was turned.

Flash stands on Jose's brick and presides over his girls!
Omo, Jose preening, and Flash

Again, the new doves didn't spend the night, so after they left I put Jose to bed in the dovecote as before - the trouble is I know intuitively that that is where she wants to be at bedtime, she looks up at the cote so pitifully! My husband says I can't possible know what she wants, but he is more of a machine man than a bird lover. I knew Flash and Omo would be back in the morning of course, and I didn't want Jose to be hurt or killed by them so I got up about 4.30am and moved her to the hutch.

Jose grabs a peanut in a funny way!

The end - Part II of this blog is below, PLUS the story of a rescue!

Wonderful News + A Rescue - Part II

Monday 6th June 2011 - Again Flash and Omo were in and out of the cote all morning. Flash bringing so many bits of twig and leaf that the cote appeared full up, and bits of stuff were poking out. Later in the afternoon Omo didnt seem to be around and I saw Flash mate with Jose on three different occasions - and I promise you I am not watching them all the time!

By 7.20pm the others had gone again and I put Jose in the cote. I can usually tell if the doves are leaving for the night rather than just going off for a fly round, and of course it depends on the light and weather conditions as to the time they leave my garden.

Tuesday 7th June - I took Jose out of the cote at 4.45am, put her safe in the hutch and went back to bed myself. By 7am when I was up again Flash and Omo were at the cote. Again they were in and out all day and more nesting material was brought.

Flash and Omo kissing

Flash makes his intentions clear!

Flash prepares to mount Omo

Mating only last a few seconds

And then it's over!

Still Tue 7th - My husband has a workshop on the farm. About 9am he rang me and asked 'Do you want to look after a baby crow?'... 'Oh yes!' I said. 'You'll have to wash it' he replied 'It's fallen into oil - I'll bring it round'. I was still in my dressing gown but no time to get dressed, and I rushed to get a plastic pinny n and find a washing up bowl and some old towels. Hubby turned up with the bedraggled little scrap wrapped in a grimy workshop towel. 'It's a jackdaw, not a crow' he said. He handed me the wrapped bird, suggesting that I apply the washing up liquid straight to its feathers, rather than dilute it in water. I did this as best as I could, rinsing it in the bowl of water (blood temperature - well my blood temperature, I hoped it was ok for the bird). It took about six washes and rinses before I felt the oil was off and the water ran reasonably clean. The bird struggled a little but I didnt have time to worry about it, I just got on the with job, trying to be as delicate and careful as possible. For some reason it reminded me of washing lace! Then I grabbed the camera and took a couple of quick shots for my blog.

My husband had suggested that I put the jackdaw to dry in the sun - in the dog box. Although it was early in the day it was very warm, but the bird was shivering uncontrollably and after a few seconds, I scooped it back into the towel again and tucked it under my arm while I collected my hairdrayer and put the 'snugglesafe' microwave hot pad into the microwave to heat up. I felt it was very important that I warm it up as quickly as possible if it was going to survive. I took him into the conservatory which was very warm and gently dried him a little with the hairdryer on the lowest setting. Then I put the snugglesafe in the dog box, wrapped in a towel of course, and put the baby on top of it. Whew! I was now able to take a good look at him and was quite pleased that he looked fairly ok.
I didnt want to be too hopeful in case he didnt pull through so I thought I'd done my best for him and now I'd leave him a while - with food and water in the box of course. I was back within the hour and went straight to see how my baby was, and he was still alive thank goodness and looking quite perky so I decided to name him. Meet Hugo! You'll want to know what actually to him. He was found by a motor mechanic when opening up his workshop, in part of an old barn, after being away on holiday for more than a week. Hugo was on the floor and had obviously fallen into, but scrambled out of, a pan of oil. How long he had been there is anyone's guess but it probably wasn't more than a day or so or he would not have survived. The mechanic knew there had been a jackdaw's nest in the other half of the barn as he'd seen the parent go in and out, but now the nest was deserted and the other babies had obviously fledged and gone.

Next thing of course was to get Hugo to eat - he certainly wasnt going to make it if he didnt eat and of course I had no idea when he last ate or indeed what would be best to offer him. I have mealworms so I soaked some, and I also got some worms out of my wormery and chopped them up. Doing this was unpleasant but I figured no worse than birds would do themselves with their beaks. I tried offering him the bits of worm and mealworms on long tweezers held out to his beak, but he just wouldnt open it. I even looked up people feeding baby jackdaws on Youtube and put his box near the laptop so he could hear the other babies squeaking for food in the hope that it would stimulate him! I started trying to feed him about 11am - on and off, mosting on! - and eventually at 1.10pm he opened his beak and ate the tiniest morsel of chopped worm! Hurray!

Then he ate NOTHING again and I was getting desperate. Some of the advice on the internet suggested puppy food, either wet or soaked dried pellets, so I zoomed down to the petshop and bought a small selection to try. At ten to three Hugo suddenly got the hang of it and started to eating soaked mealworms and the occasional bit of soaked dried puppy food. I fed him half hourly until about 9pm ish, and I'll be honest with you it was a labour of love. Sometimes he wouldn't open his beak, sometimes he dropped the mealworm, or I dropped it off the tweezers, or it broke before it got into his mouth. I had no idea how much he should eat, but each feeding session fed him til he seemed to lose interest, then waited another half hour before offering the food again. At about 9pm it was getting dark and baby birds are not fed at night of course, so I covered the box, still in the conservatory with a dark sheet, and hope he would survive the night.

Back to the dove - Flash and Omo didnt stay the night, so I put Jose to bed in the dovecote again.

Wed 8th June - Again I got up at 4.30 am and moved Jose to the hutch. I often wake up around this time anyway so it wasnt a big effort, and I can easily go back to sleep again afterwards. At 6am I removed the sheet from Hugo's box and fed him soaked mealworms again, which he ate quite well but slowly. His box was on the conservatory table and I sat on a chair, sipping my tea and poking mealworms through the grille with the tweezers. Sounds crazy but he preferred the straightest ones. Imagine me bending over an icecream tub of soaked mealworms trying to pick out the straight ones at 6am! By mid morning Hugo had started to peck at the mealworms that had fallen off the tweezers and started to feed himself! Big relief for me at it is extremely time consuming feeding a baby bird!

I arranged a cage in the garden for Hugo withthe small hospital box for him to stand on or go inside. I draped the end with a towel and plastic to give him shade and shelter and he seemed fairly content.

Again Flash and Omo spent a busy day arranging their nest, but didnt stay the night. Flash was also busy behind Omo's back, mating with Jose, and then later with Omo!

That evening I let Hugo be free in the conservatory and he seemed to like it. He was not brilliant at flying, more fluttering than flying, but he flew from my hand to my head!

I put Jose to bed in the dovecote again.

Thursday 9th June - I was up at 5am, half an hour later than yesterday and Flash and Omo had already arrived and kicked Jose out onto the hedge below the cote! I rescued her and put her in the hutch til I got up properly. Flash and Omo repeated yesterday, including Flash mating with Jose while Omo sat inside the cot. Chocolate Brownie also mated with Jose today - all these carryings on! I think CB and Dalmation Dove have eggs again as I'm only seeing one or other at present. Yet again Flash and Omo didnt stay the night so I tried something different. I put Jose to bed in a different section of the cote, not her old place where F and O had built their nest but the top side one facing the hutch.

Friday 10th June - I got up at 4.30am and meant to wait and watch to see what Flash and Omo would do when they arrived - see whether they noticed Jose was in the cote, but I was too tired and just put her straight in the hutch and went back to bed.

Today I saw Hugo drink for the first time - he probably has drunk before but secretly! In the evening I brought him into the conservatory for flying practice between 6-8pm so he could built up confidence and get the feel of his wings.

At 7.30pm Omo was on the nest and Flash was on the roof. I surreptiously moved the step-ladder and put Jose to bed in the side section the same as last night. Within one minute Omo had flown out of her part and onto the roof to 'tell' Flash. Fifteen minutes later she went back in and ten minutes after that Flash entered Jose's bit, chucked her out and was nastily pecking her on the hedge. It seems she is fine for a plaything when Omo is not around, but he isn't going to allow her to live in his house! From the hedge Jose fell on the yard side, not the garden side, and she immediately ran under my car. Brilliant! It was raining and I had to force her out from under the car and catch her with the net, so I could put her safely in the hutch. This time Omo DID spend the night in the cote but I didn't think Flash stayed with her. And that's my wonderful news - breeding doves in my cote! It's been more than TWO years since Hope and Glory hatched Victory and Purity in March 2009 (see previous blogs for their story) and I am full of expectation again.
The end.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Interlopers and Sad Moments

May 2011

First interloper was the sparrowhawk and this happened a while ago but I forgot to mention it in the previous blog.I couldn't believe it but it actually flew into our bedroom! We call our home the cottage; it's a bungalo, and our bedroom window faces the river. I was in the garden early one morning, and the bedroom sash was pushed up high to air the room. I saw it land on the outside window sill, hesitate a second and fly into the room. I wouldn't have thought that was usual hawlike behaviour. I tried to call my husband but the name wouldn't come out because I was slightly flabbergasted and maybe a bit scared, but then I rushed inside and to the bedroom but it had already flown out again - luckily!

Another bird in the house was one of our coal tits. They have successfully reared a lovely brood of extremely noisy fat chicks and we're very fond of them. The babies sit and 'shimmer' flapping their wings and calling to be fed while the worn out little parents try to keep them all satisfied. This particular one flew in through the open kitchen door and into the living room where it flew madly round and round, occasionally banging into the windows and evading our attempts to catch it. Normally if the little birds fly in, which they do fairly frequently, they are easily caught up against the window. This one seemed panicked, landing on top of the bookcase and suddenly disappeared. We have bookcases on two walls that meet in the middle with a gap in between. They are screwed to the walls so we had to move many of the books - a chance to dust!! - and unscrew the bookcases to free the bird. My husband had been complaining he was bored and not much was happening - well all that unscrewing, moving of books and putting it all back together took about an hour and gave him something to do alright! I was glad the little thing hadn't damaged itself though.

Other interlopers include the cheeky jackdaws that check out the dovecote, and squirrels that sit on Jose's table and eat her food or even enter the hutch! We have a squirrel problem as you can see from the photo!

Interlopers who were very welcome, and in fact guests! were the robin and the starling who on one particular day both kept popping back to the house for mealworms - presumably feeding babies. They took turns to come in and collect the mealworms from a little dish on my kitchen door mat.In May there was a day or so of high winds. I know the North and Scotland suffered badly, but here in Surrey I didnt think it was too bad, but after the gale several doves arrived in the garden with injuries. All were totally white doves so it was difficult to sort out who was who, but at least three were limping with foot injuries and one had a wound on its chest. Unfortunately there was very little I could do for these birds as, if they can fly, they are certainly not going to let me catch them and the only thing I can do is throw the poorly ones peanuts so they get a more nutritious meal. And that's not easy to do as every single dove and pigeon adores peanuts and runs for them! Difficult to run if you're limping! I usually keep the peanuts for treats for my special doves like Chocolate Brownie, Peace, Jose and a few others, but every morning, first thing after putting out the grain, I do set on the step with two handfuls of peanuts and the boldest doves come to get them. There are about six of them with a few 'hoverers' who hope that a peanut or two will roll away for them to steal without having to be brave enough to actually eat from my hand!

One of the limpers has now recovered and I know this is so because I recognise it's feet; another is still on one leg only the other drawn up to its body and may be crippled for life. The one with the wound on its chest has a sad story. It had been on the lawn, sitting in the sun near Jose who was off her table and basking in the warmth up against the raised vegetable bed, and I tried to catch it but it still had the strength then to fly away. By early evening I realised it was on Jose's table with Jose. I had assumed it was Toffee Splodge - Jose's 'friend' - and hadnt taken much notice (more about TS later). I watch the doves frequently and so see much of their behaviour but I hadn't seen what happened next before, and don't wish to. It was obvious the wounded dove was very poorly and while I was observing and wondering if I could again try to catch it, a dove flew down onto the table and mated it forcibly. There was no attempt at preliminary courting behaviour - it was what I can only call rape, and unpleasant to watch even in birds. I straight away approached the table and shooed the male way, and Jose and the ill one both entered the hutch through the little entrance. I immeditaly put my hand over it so neither could escape, then slotted the door into place. I removed Jose from the hutch leaving her outside on the table and put food and water inside for the other one. My plan was to give her peace and quiet for the night and see what could be done in the morning. An hour later when I peeked in the poor little thing was in an un-natural position and I knew she was dead. At least I was grateful I had been able to let her spend her last hour on earth in peaceful, dim, cool, quiet surroundings and more importantly unmolested.

Wounded female, and below with Jose (also female)

Below, one of the limpers

I removed the body from the hutch straight away, laying her on the garden table so I could see how bad her wound had been. It was much worse than could be seen through her feathers, quite a large deep hole and infested with m*ggots. I have a slight phobia about these and hate to see or hear the word! I don't want anything to do with them - even writing this makes me a little sick, but it's part of the 'job' sometimes when dealing with birds. The poor little angel had been being eaten alive! It was quite revolting and I actually got the hose and swished the ones I could see out. If you think I am crazy, you may well be right! I picked a few flowers to cover her wound, and gave her a river funeral - back to nature, beautiful bird.

Yet another casualy of heavy rain (possibly) was the hatchling robin - just emerging from the egg - or maybe the egg was broken before the baby could hatch. Found under the hedge as you see in the photo. Another sad story was the little fledgling starling I found in the garden. I knew two starlings had nested in the building next door - they do every year. Other than that we just don't see any starlings in the garden. I even found both the discarded egg shells and brought them in for my kitchen window sill. I like having little egg shells on my sill, reminding me of new life. The first time I saw the fledgling it was bumbling about on the lawn and I didn't recognise it as a starling but thought 'you're too young to be out alone!' It found the edge of the garden and scrambled its way round the fence and walls, and I followed it watching. There seemed no sign of the parent so I made a playpen in the herb bed and hope its calls would attract the parent. I also tried to feed it with soaked and unsoaked meal worms held to its beak with long tweezers, and it was quite receptive to this, and started eating, much to my relief.

'Toddler' starling as I first saw him

He jumps up to the shed and rests there a minute - so cute and feisty!
By evening I had identified him as a starling - obvious really! - and decided to bring him in for the night as there were no sign of the parents. I made up my dog's old carrying box that I use as a dove hospital, with a hay nest at the end. In the morning it was still alive and sensibly settled in its nest. It was me that wasn't the sensible one and I feel I let the baby thing down very badly. I found it only two days before I was going on holiday - my husband was also away and there was no-one I felt I could ask to look after it. The next day I was still hopeful the parent would come and did in fact see a starling in the tall tree overlooking the garden. I dithered about, worrying about in constantly, and chopping and changing my mind as to its care. Sometimes I left it in the play pen and sometimes just in the herb bed, as I though the pen might put the parents off. Eventually I decided I would take it to the local wildlife aid to be looked after there, and stupidly before going, I popped to the village for ten minutes, leaving it unattended and not in the pen. When I came back, my baby was dead - it had suffered what looked like an aggressive peck to the head. I was devastated and cursed myself for being so stupid, ignorant and careless. I knew it was too young to be left alone, yet still I took the chance. I don't know why but I always get in a state before I go on holiday, maybe that was the reason. The first two nights away I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about it and grieving for it. It was adorable as you can see from the photo. I am pretty sure that the jaw was the culprit as it returned to the same sport. I determined that if ever the Universe sent me another baby bird to look after, I would take no chances! Little did I think that I would be given the challenge again so soon - see my next blog!
A baby with a happier ending was the little fledgling thrush I saw in the yard outside my neighbour's house. I was driving, but as a few more hopes would've taken int into the path of any other car coming through, I found it impossible to just drive on! I stopped the car and was looking at it when my neighbour came it and we discussed what to do. Almost straight away I could see the parent bird and R said he thought there was a nest in the hedge. He couldnt find it, but could see another two similar babies in the hedge, so we gently put the found one up next to them, and R said he would keep his cat in for the day. We didnt see them again, so we assumed that those babies made it. That one was adorable too - wish I'd taken a photo of it. We seem to see fewer thrushes nowadays round here, so I am very much hoping that little brood survived.

A brief moment of special bird happiness was when my husband and I saw a pair of kingfishers fly up from the river, dart around the garden and back to the river. We see them so rarely,that's the one and only time so far this year, but it's wonderful to know they are there - the sapphire of the river!

Toffee Splodge hasn't been seen for two or three weeks now. Photos show her mating on the lawn - maybe her new love took her away, as it's the male bird that chooses the nest site. She's a gentle and distinctive bird so I hope to see her again soon.

Typical courting behavior - billing (kissing!)

Below, cloacal kiss (mating!) - my doves don't usually mate on the lawn

My next blog has excellent news, so please come back and read it!
The end.