Friday, 16 September 2011

Omo & Flash are proud to annouce....

16th Sept.'11 - The picture above was taken in the garden today - one of those lovely warm dreamy Indian Summer afternoons when the doves laze, take baths and peck on the lawn - you can just see Mummy Omo or Daddy Flash in the dovecote window. The egg or eggs hatched a week ago - Friday the 9th and on Tuesday I saw Omo peek her head out, take a good look round, then fly out. Flash didn't replace her so I grabbed the steps and the opportunity to look inside the nest. Two babies! Both covered in yellow down and plumptious! I could see them well, but they were so small this is all the camera could get I'm afraid, and of course I was trying to be quick in case Omo came back!

4 days old

and here is big sibling, Fairy - aged approx 11 weeks

There is an excellent website showing the day to day growth of a baby pigeon here - from day 1 to day 31 I think it is : - see the left hand side panel.

And here we have my two squabs at about 5 days old - the eldest is starting to open it's eyes.
I visited Claremont again and this time took my camera. This is Rusty as she was in June when I rescued her - I'm sure you remember the state she was in.

And here she is now, ringed by me, still with her flock - a bit scruffy, but a true survivor!

The flock at Claremont are tamer than my own birds. They'll do anything for a peanut!

Even two at a time - it reminded me of the good old days when you were allowed to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Do you remember the men selling the little bags of food?

And now here are the babies again - 6 days old (below) Sorry I don't think the flash worked that time on my camera, and I don't like to take too many photos in case it upsets them.

And today Friday 16th Sept '11 is their one week old birthday. They were cuddled down and I didn't get a good photo. The nestbox is beginning to smell a bit, and hopefully this will be the last lot of squabs this year and I can clean it out! It'll be a lot smellier by the time these babies are fledged! I do hope all goes well for them. I'm going away for a few days next week on holiday, so will miss some of their growing up. I pray nothing happens to them while I'm gone.
Their story will continue when I get back.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A rescued racing pigeon and an exciting find!

9th Sept '11 - The photo above shows cute Pixie, with her feathered feet, that I ringed a while ago - see last blog. She having a little doze on the lawn ...I don't see her now and fear she has died but hopefully just moved on. Other doves I am not currently seeing and wish I was are Peace (came down my chimney on the day my mother died and a very special bird) and Toffee Splodge (Jose's gentle friend from earlier this year). Remember Rusty with the awful bloodied face rescued from Claremont? I saw her this week when I went there to walk round the lake - forgot my camera though. I was very pleased to see her still doing well. The flock there is about 40 strong, and I do worry that come the winter, when people don't visit so much, the doves will go hungry, but I asked at the entrance kiosk and was reassured when the lady told me that the gardeners have a seed store and feed the doves and the birds on the lake morning and evening. Oh yes, said the lady, the flock of doves have been here at Claremont forever, they interbreed with the seagulls you know (ermm, no, I don't think so!, I thought, but I didn't say anything! - maybe she said the wrong word and meant 'pigeons'. Certainly the doves do breed with the pigeons as they are the same species but, having said that, birds, apparently, choose a mate that looks like their parents, and a white dove would, out of preference choose another white dove for it's mate)

While I wait for the eggs to hatch (hopefully this time!) I'll tell you about the beautiful grey ringed racer that I returned to her owner a few weeks ago.

A truly lovely bird, softly grey all over, and ringed, but limping and dragging her wing.

After a few days of throwing her extra peanuts to build up her strength, I managed to trap her in the net when she was eating them with her back to me! And I put her in my hospital box, made nice and comfortable, and placed it on top of Jose's hutch.

Flash checks out the newcomer, while she makes herself at home in the box

I noted down the number on her ring and filled in the online form from The Royal Pigeon Racing Association website - 'report stray' section - I've done this before, but that bird was dead. The website informed me that if it was a Friday they would not be contacting the owner until Monday and I might well have to keep the bird til Tuesday. Just my luck I thought to catch a bird on a Friday, but luckily an email pinged into my box giving the owner's full details including telehone number and I was able to ring him straight away. He was a very nice gentleman from Billingshurst, West Sussex (I am in Surrey), grateful for the call and said he would come the next morning for her. I must admit I had wondered if the owner would want to bother to come to collect an injured bird but when he came and told me how much these racing pigeons can cost then I wondered no more! He himself has paid £1,000 for a bird and told me of some (extremely wealthy) man who had paid £45,000 I think it was! Wow!

Calm in her owner's hands - I've got a lovely smiley pic of him, but I didn't mention my blog and it would hardly be fair to put his photo up for everyone to see without permission
The gentleman, having examined his bird (these pigeon fanciers don't name their birds like I do!) felt that she had suffered a hawk strike. He said this damage to her body is consistent with that. I was glad that he said he would very likely be able to help her fully recover - he'd take the weight off her legs by hanging her up in his pigeon loft in a stocking - suspended with her feet sticking out! - and the damaged one set with a little stick. No doubt he would be able to fix her wing too. Out of interest, he told me he had released her - with others - from Petersfield. She must have really lost her way to end up at mine! I also recently found a printed white wing feather - some owners stamp their address on the their birds' feathers, but I've never found one before. That bird came from Saxmundham - approx 80/90 miles away I guess.

And now the exciting news! Today was hatching day - 18 days from when I first noticed Omo and Flash 'swapping' places in the nestbox - and as the last eggs were duds - see previous blog - I was concerned that these eggs wouldnt hatch either. This afternoon when I came home from shopping, I checked under the cote to see if I could spot any 'signs' but nothing there.... no worries, I thought, it might be tomorrow, don't give up hope... and then as I walked up to my door, there on the path was the announcement egg shell!

Can you see the little white blog on the centre line - that's it! I photographed where I found it. Just exactly like when Hope & Glory had Victory & Purity and left an egg shell on the gravel path, Flash or Omo had left their new squab's egg shell for me to find! I am convinced of it! And I am so happy... though it's still early days of course. I will update you soon.

To be cont...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The new eggs - and a new dove

6th Sept '11

Read on to find out why Fairy is in the guttering!

Fairy, Flash and Omo's squab - see previous blog - grew up quickly. She had a good instinct for keeping safe and in the early days she spent most of her time, when not feeding, inside Jose's hutch.

I thought it was clever of her to put herself there, and in fact the first day when I came home after being out, and found her there I was amazed! Jose was tolerant of her and allowed her to sit on the table with her or go inside, whatever she liked!See, in the photo below of Fairy inside the hutch, how she has changed....grown up in a few days! In the photo above of her in the hutch (the one second photo down from the top) she has the immature beak still.

On the afternoon of the day Fairy first came out of the nest, as time drew on, Flash spent ages flying in and out of a section of the cote, plainly trying to show his baby 'spend the night here!' but Fairy didnt understand and eventually about 8.20 pm (very late for him!) Flash left the garden and flew away to wherever he roosts at night. Fairy stayed on the roof and eventually settled, sitting in the gutter (see top photo) for the night. Luckily it was mild, but I hated it and was up very early in the morning and thankful to see her ok.

By the next night Fairy had cracked it and spent the night in the cote. It felt very cosy and Happy Families to me - Mum, Omo, in the the nest with her two eggs, big baby Fairy also in the cote and Jose in her hutch. I hadn't had so many doves for the night for ages.

On the 8th Aug when Fairy was 37-39 days old, she flew off with Flash in the evening and didnt spend the night in the cote. I was sorry about that but she was always a forward dove.... I was even sorrier in the morning when she wasn't there with Flash and the others for the morning feed and I hoped nothing had happened to her. I didn't see her again for two days and had almost given up hope, but she found her way back and since then I see her regularly. She's one of my special darlings and always gets peanuts thrown to her!

On Sunday 14th Aug both Flash and Omo were off the nest and I got the steps and checked it. Two eggs, and one warmer than the other.
The doves spent the day 'fussing' - other doves were around the cote and Flash didnt see them off as usual. The atmosphere was wrong and the next day they abandoned the nest in the morning. About 2.30pm Omo went back to it and spent a whole minute checking it out, but left again. I was upset of course, and wondered what was the reason? Had the buzzards mewing cries upset them? Was it the weather... or what?

The eggs had been due to hatch, why would they leave them at this stage? That evening Flash and Omo came back, left again, came back again several times over a period of an hour and a half but eventually flew away for the night. I removed the cold eggs when it was completely dark but didnt crack them then as I knew I'd be upset if there were squabs inside.
The next morning I opened them - nothing! Duds! Just like the one that had been with Fairy.

Flash and Omo visited Jose and spent a day or so back to normal, and started mating again!

By the 18th August Flash was bringing sticks to the nest again (same nest) and by the afternoon of the 20th Omo seemed settled in it once more. Two days later, 22nd Aug, I saw Omo and Flash swap places, so there must be an egg!!

While all this was going on a new dove came into my life. I first noticed her on the ground alone when the other doves had left for the night and managed to catch her in the net. It's almost impossible to catch a dove that's not poorly so I assumed she was, but could see no obvious reason, so I ringed her and named her Pixie, and put her in the hospital box for the night. In the morning I set her free and saw her frequently over the next couple of weeks.
She had cute feathered feet and a funny little personality of her own.

My husband wondered if she had come from another cote as she was quite tame, joining the peanut eaters in the morning to eat off my hands. She acted differently to the other doves, clambering on my fingers and ducking under my elbows to get the nuts. One day she wasn't there, and as it was a Sunday I went round to the back of the buildings near us that are used as offices. Pixie was on the ground and I was afraid she couldn't fly so I took round some food and water. I think she liked being waited on hand and foot, but since then unfortunately I havent seen her.

It is nearly time for the new eggs to hatch - 18 days is the norm - but I am trying not to get my hopes up, but of course I AM getting my hopes up..... today is Tue 6th Sept so I calculate Thurs or Fri should be hatching day - fingers crossed! Today is rainy and blustery and the doves were acting a bit funny again. They do not like wind! They both left the nest for about 5 minutes and that seemed too long to me but have settled down now. I do hope all with be well this time. My husband is pessimistic - he says that of the four earlier eggs, only one hatched and 1 out of 4 is not a good percentage and maybe Flash is firing blanks. Well, I said, what about Fairy? Maybe Omo mated with another dove as well as Flash that time he said. There is nothing I can do but wait and see...

The last two photos are the doves enjoying a puddle! Fairy is at the front of the first picture. She's beautiful, isn't she? The end... to be cont.