Thursday, 5 January 2012

Dovecote Disaster!

5th January 2012 - The UK has been experiencing high winds and gales, and this morning when I went into the garden the dove cote had come down! It had fallen, missing Jose’s table, and crashing into the pampas grass. I rushed over, and could see that the section where the doves were last night was underneath, so I rushed back in, yelling for my husband to come and help. He heaved it up and I could see white wings inside, and for a second my heart stopped but then a head popped up and I reached in, pulled out the dove, putting it on Jose’s table. It immediately flew away and thankfully had survived the disaster. I was so distraught that I certainly didn’t think of taking photos then, and didn’t notice whether the dove was Shanti (the female) or Shelby (male- named properly now, but called Red Ring in my last blog). The other one was nowhere to be seen. I burst into tears to my husband’s amazement – he doesn’t understand my emotions for the doves. The cote was a wedding present from my parents – both now deceased – and is very special to me, but more so for the doves that live and breed in it. I can only be thankful there was no eggs or squabs in the cote. Neither Jose nor Eric (new dove in the hospital and more about him later) had been hurt, so I was very grateful about that too. (You might remember there was a pigeon in the hospital right at the end of the last blog – unfortunately that one died).

This was before 8am in the morning, and the doves that visit the garden come in about 8am at this time of the year for feeding. I quickly noticed that both Shanti and Shelby were there, and seemed ok after their shock. Extra peanuts for them of course! Flash hadn’t yet arrived, and as I feel he is still a convalescent I was concerned for him too, after such a windy night – I don’t know where he goes to roost, it could be miles away.
My husband examined the damage and said that the post the cote was on was untreated wood, and had gone rotten. He reckoned that if the wood had been treated properly, before painting, it would not have rotted and therefore would not have broken in the wind. The post was supplied with the cote and I shall be contacting the company that supplied the cote as I am not at all happy, as you can imagine. I will let you know what they say.
Hubby then went off to buy a new post, and rang some lads who work on the farm to come and dig out the remains of the old post, and put the new one in. I am fortunate to have a helpful and capable husband + friends, and by 10am the cote was up again. While it was down I scrubbed down the paintwork and cleaned the inside, spraying for parasites and laying more newspaper in each section (this makes cleaning so much easier at a later stage). I don’t mind the new post – plain wood but TREATED of course – as it blends into the hedge better than the old white one. Unfortunately, it was set not quite at the right angle and the positions of the cote sections have changed slightly – by one ‘turn’ as it were. I don’t know if Shanti and Shelby will come back to it tonight, or whether they have been put off it for life. It’s such a shame, they were such a cosy little pair, cuddling up at night together in the same bit.
I took some photos and here’s the garden with the new post up (above) and showing the rotten wood below.

While I was cleaning the cote, Flash turned up on the hedge near me. He is a curious and intelligent bird.

Flash surveys the damage,above and below

He watched for a while then purposefully walked off round the hedge and picked up a stick. I think this was his way of telling me to rebuild his nest, or perhaps his way of helping!

Twenty minutes after the cote was back up, Flash was on the hedge again, looking up at it – he then flew up to one of the back sections, stayed in there for a minute, then came out and investigated one of the side sections, before coming out of that one too.

Flash wonders if this is ok

He settles in the back section for a short while

Flash flies up to his old favourite nest box......

and peers in

He stayed in the doorway looking in for a while and then came out and went off to court Jose on her table. Another white dove, neither Shanti or Shelby, came to sit on the top of the cote, and he flew to see it off, so he obviously still considers the cote his and worth defending.
Shanti and Shelby haven’t been near the cote today, as far as I am aware – though Shelby has been on Jose’s table. I can only wait and see whether they come back to it tonight or not. The poor things, I have no idea what time the cote crashed down, whether one flew out as it did so, or managed to wriggle out through the opening and through the pampas grass when it was down, and how long the other was trapped in there – it may have been hours. I wouldn’t blame them if they never want to use it again.
A quick note about Eric – My husband picked a white dove out of the flower bed on Tues. 3rd Jan and put it in the hospital with food and water while I was out. In the afternoon, I brought him in, sprayed him for parasites and ringed him with a green ring. Husband was allowed to choose his name – I wouldn’t have chosen Eric! He might be Erica of course, I don’t know yet. He didn’t seem to be able to fly, and as the wind was so bad I put him back in the hospital, with carefully chosen small grains, peanut sprinkles and vitamins . The vitamins I use are called Natural Vitamineral , a pinkish powder that I put in small pots. It contains minerals and vits A, D and E, amongst others. I bought it online but it comes from Natural Granen from Antwerp and they supply my preferred grain mix. That night Eric sat at the top of the ramp but didn’t go into the hutch. When Flash was in there, he sat in the door way of the hutch, peeking out, like the doves in the cote do, and eating and drinking from the pots inside the hutch. From the clean state of the newspaper in the hutch, I can tell he (Eric) hasn’t even walked in there. He is obviously not used to being confined. I will of course give him another chance to fly away, but not til the high winds have died down. I hope by then he will have recovered from whatever happened to make him end up in the flower bed. I did see the hawk that day, and it is possible she had caught and covered him and was disturbed by my husband – having said that there were no talon wounds on him. Sometimes a day or two’s rest with good food is enough to help a dove or pigeon to recover.

Eric in the hospital run

To be continued


Fennie said...

Oh dear! But fortunately no very great harm seems to have been done. Wood does rot, sadly, even when it has been treated. The newly erected cote looks as good as new and the doves seem happy with it. But it must have been a shock.

blackbird said...

What a shock for you but I'm so glad that there were no eggs or babies at the time. With rot like that, it really could have fallen without a wind but now- it's better than new.

Norma Murray said...

What a dreadful situation to find in the morning. I am so glad there were no injured birds, but it must have been a very close shave.

Maddy said...

That is such a shame. So glad you showed us photos of the restoration too.

Linda Percival said...

So glad Bill and friends got it all sorted and no birds or babies injured! What a start to the New Year. Love the names Shanti and Shelby :-)

Calico Kate said...

Goodness me! Do hope that everyone went back in with too much bother over night. Birds are resilient things over all. Lucky you indeed with capable and practical husband - mine's useless!

Lesa said...

I'd have been very upset too. Shocking find, but I'm so glad you've worked things out beautifully and all seems to be returning to normal. As someone else said, thanks so much for posting the later pics when repairs were made. Hope your weather is more gentle soon!

Guernsey Girl said...

Good to see the cote back in its rightful place. Happy New Year to you...