Sunday, 13 October 2013

Alf and Meg......and rather too much of Bertie!

Friday 4th October 2013 - continued.

By 3.30pm today I was totally fed-up with Bertie. He had scared the birds all day, made it difficult for me to give the babies freedom and had been sick in my spare room! I didn't know he was even in there til I heard a noise and went in! Yuck! I bundled him into a carrier and drove him home! His devoted slave wasn't in, so I deposited him in the front garden and drove home. The traffic was so slow, I almost expected to find him on the door-step when I got back! Meg came down early and wanted to go in the run - believe me I can tell what she wants! so Alf was left alone - and when she inched down the roof at last, she wouldn't come down far enough, so I had to climb on the coal bunker and net her - not easy and rather dangerous for me! Naughty Alf!

Sat. 5.10.13 - Today has been a blissfully Bertie-free day. Don't get me wrong, I do like Bertie - he is a beautiful velvety cat with a lovely nature, but he's very much a cat, and the birds were here first! And I don't have a moment's peace with him around.  I put the babies straight from cote to run this morning as I was going out for a couple of hours. When I can back the weather was mild with a hint of sunshine so I gave Meg a bath - afterwards she went right to the back of the run and hid from me!

 I gave her a few minutes to recover, then I decided to give her a peanut boost, so I perched my bum on the wood of the run so I could feed her. Unfortunately I was too heavy, there was a mighty crack as the support broke and I ended up going through, with my jeans ripped and a long scratch in a delicate place! I was more concerned about my jeans as they are my only comfortable pair!Then I put Meg up on the top of the cote, with Alf, to dry off properly.
 Meg, left, says 'I am so sleepy, Alf, I can hardly keep my eyes open!'
'Mmm' agrees Alf 'I know what you mean - let's have 40 winks!'
My sweet sleeping angels
Meg came down with the stragglers from the flock at the end of the day and fed herself (but I still top her up at bedtime) - then she flies back up again. My clockwork dove, Alf, sees no reason to come down....... You'll feed me, won't you? Yes, Alf, I will but it would be better if you learnt to feed yourself!
Bedtime was easy, as Meg was with Alf. She takes the lead so when she flew down to the top of the hutch, Alf followed soon after. They were fed and in bed by 6.15pm. I feel like my daughter when she's got her little ones to bed - whew! Now I can enjoy my evening.
Sunday 6th Oct 13 - Bertie was here first thing - not at all cross with me for having taken him home on Friday. Having broken the run so it's not safe, I had to shut the babies in the hutch while I went to the car boot and leave poor Cloud in the conservatory. It had turned beautifully sunny by the time I got back and the pigeons were all relaxing on the grass - you can just see Alf and Meg still in the hutch.

But they were allowed out on the lawn (no Bertie) and Cloud was given a bath and put in her hutch. I'm glad we've cut the tree of paradise back a bit as it gives Cloud a lovely sunny corner. The babies pecked around a bit - even Alf taking an interest in feeding herself - and when Meg flew to the roof, I picked Alf up and gently tossed her up there too. She hasn't the strength, the ability or the inclination to fly up from the lawn yet.
Bertie stuck around all afternoon, lounging on the warm top of the sleeping quarters of the run - keeping the birds away. The small group of white doves that come in the late afternoon - which include the pair Mr. Strong and Frances - who I think have young ones - waited patiently on the roof, and eventually came down even though Bertie was still there. I tried to feed them quietly near the kitchen door, as far away from Bertie boy as possible! Meg came down with them, and ate the small quantity that she manages on her own. When the others went back to the top of the roof,  where there was still some sunshine, she stayed near the edge of the low roof, flapping her wings in a baby-like way when I talked to her, and closing her eyes as if she was tired. I knew what she wanted! - so I went and got the steps, took her off the roof and fed her! She had exactly 27 grains/peanuts before she felt she had had enough, and then flew off my lap and to the top of the roof again - where no doubt she'll stay til bedtime. Alf of course didn't come down at all! As Bertie was there I had to be very very aware of what the birds were doing, and when some white doves came down I went to see and found Alf had roused herself to come too - I threw some small grains and she was pecking at them, while the others gobbled up the peas and maize, and then I saw Bertie, crouching and creeping up the path!..... I threw myself forward and just managed to get my hands round my darling little dove as Bertie reached her! I'm surprised she didn't die of fright - I nearly did! Oh Bertie, what I am going to do with you! Well, after that, it was sippers of water, a good feed and early bedtime for Alf - at 5.15pm Mummy that's too early! Never mind, Alf, you have a new bedroom....... I decided when I got them up this morning that they looked a little crowded and if they slept alone they would have more room and could sit down and spread out if they wanted to..... I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not.... So Alf was put in one of the side compartments of the cote, and Meg will go in the old nest box. I actually fed Alf in the kitchen as Bertie was eyeing us in the garden, and it occurred to me to weigh her - 213 pitiful little grams. So very light, like thistledown - there is no substance to her whatsoever - but there is still that vital little spark of life! My precious angel!  I am getting very little done at this time of the day as I was petrified Meg would come down and be caught by Bertie if I turned my back..... but soon she flew to the top of the hutch, was captured, and put to bed. These babies need me so much - and my whole life is currently arranged around them. I promised I'd take my little grand-daughter swimming tomorrow, while mum and big brother (who's only 3!) - are going to London for his first trip there - so my own little babies will have to stay locked in the hutch. I don't like doing that to them but that's the way it has to be for now with Bertie visiting. I wonder if I can get some high protein or high fat food or something for them to build them up - complan for dovies!
It was a year ago today that my flightless dove Jose was killed by the neighbour's dog that broke into our garden. I can never forget Jose, stroppy madam that she was - here she is in the snow, November 2010. For new blog readers - briefly - I picked Jose up at a National Trust property as I realised she couldn't fly and was in a bad way - named her after the rescued San Jose miners - sneaked her out, brought her home,  and looked after her. Eventually she had a mate in Happy, who brought sticks to the hutch where she lived and made a nest for her, when he realised she couldn't fly away with him - and they reared baby Pearl in there. She never flew, but had, I hope, a full, interesting life, until she was snatched away from me.


 Monday 7th October 13 - The babies are 7 weeks old today - at least Meg is.....When I went to them first thing this morning, Alf was dead. My sweet fluffy little clockwork dove had gone in the night, and of course I blamed myself for putting her to bed on her own, without Meg's warmth. Whatever made me think that was a good idea.....? I wrapped her in a cloth and laid her on the hedge while I dealt with Meg, then she had an early morning river burial with a pink mallow from the garden tucked under her wing. RIP Alpha...... my little flower, lent not given, to bud on earth, and bloom in heaven. Gone to God's Garden .... I wish I'd spent more time with her yesterday..... I wish I hadn't put her in the cote alone for the night. But at least it was lovely and sunny yesterday, and she spent her day on the roof. Here's a photo from a few days ago - it's hard to believe this sweet thing is now dead. I knew she couldn't live very long but I didn't think it would be so soon - I feel numb about it to be honest ... I haven't even shed a tear for her, and I had tears trickling down my cheeks when little Snow died at only 26 days old, and Alf was the tamest little bird I've ever had - but I knew that was only because of her failure to thrive.
4 days later, poor little Alf died

Meg had to spend a long boring day in the hutch. Although I came back at lunchtime I couldn't let her out, as I had to go out again shortly after for a long while....... I rushed back as soon as I could and it was 5.20pm, so I reckoned she could have 45 minutes out before bedtime. There were still a handful of doves and pigeons around, hopefully waiting for a feed, and so Meg joined in with them and stretched her wings. I could feel she was grumpy with me when I took her out of the hutch, but hoped she'd forgiven me as she came down for me to feed her. Then she flew back to the roof - it was 6pm ish and I was still dithering about where to put her to bed. Should I put her in the cote as usual? or should I put her in box in the conservatory..... would that be warmer? Or even in the spare room. I prepared both and decided that if she managed to put herself to bed in the cote, then I'd leave her there, but put something in to keep her warm - but if she didn't then I'd put her in the conservatory.... or spare room. But then it got later, and dusk fell, and at 6.40pm here she is still on the roof. I was still hopeful she would fly down but by 7pm she hadn't moved.... and there was no way I could reach her there. We do have a long ladder, and I did fetch it, but it's so damn heavy I couldn't manipulate it on my own, and even if I had managed to set it up against the roof, I'm not sure if it would've been safe to go up there. I can hardly risk doing myself a mischief for a little dove. She's not the first squab to spend the night on the roof, but she could be the frailest, and a night out will do her no good at all. I can only pray that we have a mild night.... I've been out every half hour to see her but she hasn't moved. Poor silly little thing.....I now go to bed with a heavy heart, and hope she's still alive in the morning.

Tuesday 8th Oct - 5.00am - I woke up with a start and felt impelled to go out and see Meg. Still in the same position, and the early morning felt mild. Thank goodness - I went back to bed! By 7am she had roused herself and walked to the top of the roof. But when the flock came down for breakfast, she stayed where she was. During the morning, there was not one single pidgie on the roof, and I was worried about Meg, but she had flown or walked across the adjoining roofs to the furthest one - little Meg, she's growing up! - Can you just see her there on the roof?.... and then close up in the photo below.

And in the afternoon when the flock flew off the roof she went with them, circling round in the sky, and I could pick her out, as she's the smallest. Below Charm on top and Lucky in the cote - thankfully they show no signs of wanting to start another nest.

At 4pm Meg at last came down to eat with a few white doves, and after she'd pecked a bit, but was still concentrating, I carefully bent down and picked her up so I could hand feed her. She'd never be able to eat enough to keep going if I didn't. Afterwards, she flew to the box on the hedge, which I only keep there as the pot of water on top seems to be her preferred drinking place - I've never seen her drink anywhere else by choice. At bedtime I might see if she can get into the cote on her own - I don't want to scare her off, as I very much hope she will choose to sleep in the cote rather the roof - especially as they say the temperature is going to drop quite a lot by Thursday. Well, seems like I have messed it up again.....Meg was on the box and had been there for about an hour or so when at 6.15pm I crept up to try and get her to put her in the cote, as she wasn't looking like going in there on her own. She was asleep, but woke up and I just missed her .... again she flew to the roof but that's far safer than staying the night on the hedge.

Above - Meg on the box (and Cloud in the hutch) before my failed attempt
at catching her

Wednesday 9th Oct - Looks like this may well be Meg's last day..... she didn't come down for breakfast, and I was off out and didn't come back til 2pm ish. Lots of pidgies around, but only one or two white doves, and no Meg anywhere I could see. Although later on a few more white doves came back, she wasn't among them and I expect she just flew off with the flock.... and goodness knows how far they travel and where they go..... she doesn't have much of a chance, being so little and light and not really able to feed herself unless the exact right small grains are thrown down right in front of her......oh my poor little babies..... I did go out looking for her but didn't really expect to find her. well if she is not here tomorrow I think I can assume she hasn't made it. Harlequin has never come back, and he was stronger than Meg. It's heart-breaking losing my darling little birds.

Thursday 10th Oct 13 -  Today has been a complete change - in every way. The temperature has dropped, no babies to look after - so I cleared up all their 'stuff' and even moved the steps away from the cote - and I've realised that the bin is still a third full of grain. Normally by Thursday I'm being very careful with what I've got left until my delivery on Friday morning. So of course this means there are far less birds - a good thing for my wallet I suppose. Meg of course didn't turn up and although I kept looking for her on the roof, I know I am looking in vain. I wonder if someone, on a field or path somewhere, found a little dead white dove flecked with grey, with an orange ring, and wondered where she came from. There is very very little chance she could survive as she was so underweight. I thought about why the babies were so underweight, especially as I was feeding them properly - or as properly as I know how - and in fact both of them kept losing weight - and I just don't know what was wrong with them, but I don't think it was anything I could do something about. I found an old piece of paper with their weights scribbled on it - Alf was 265 and Meg was 253 - and the date was 'Sunday 18'....... I presumed it was September, but looked it up and Sunday the 18th was August! Yet on Sunday 6th Oct Alf only weighed 213g - despite my feedings - and I was giving them the same amount of food I give Cloud. Although I am desperately sad that my very special tame babies didn't make it, I very much enjoyed looking after them - and remember them this way.

Today, dove/pigeon wise it has been deadly quiet - seemed to me to be just me and Cloud. But Bertie has spent most of the day in and out of here, and I haven't minded as my precious babies are gone. In fact he's sitting curled up next to me while I type this evening - and here he is earlier on in the day. Do I feel bad about his official 'owner'? - well not really.....he's a free spirit and I don't compel him to be here. I'll be going to bed in an hour or so, and if he's still there then he will be put in the kitchen where there's a little bed under the table if he chooses to stay there on this blustery rainy cold night - but no doubt he will trot back to his other home - or maybe he has several! I noticed he had a tick on his jawline, so will ring his owner to make sure she knows about it and gets it removed. I don't particularly want to speak to her, but it's in his best interests.

Recently there have been a small group of birds coming for a late afternoon feed at 5-6pm but today only poor old Wooden Eye was there. Very bad pics of her/him but you can just about see her gunked up eye - the other eye is ok and that's how she manages. It has been such a lonesome dovie day for me, that I was delighted to see her and of course she got lots of peanuts. If you remember I did catch her in the summer and try to clean up her eye but it is just as bad now.

Friday 11th Oct 13 - I counted the flock on the roof this morning - less than 100 birds, which sounds a lot but I am used to 300 or so. Fennie hasn't been seen the last couple of mornings - but Dolly yes. I also haven't seen Autumn, Destiny or Patience for a while - but saw Pandora a couple of days ago. Miserable day and raining heavily by lunch-time. Poor Cloud it's not much of a life for her on these kind of days, and we are getting into the kind of weather where I don't even bring her out of the conservatory - which at least is light, and sometimes quite warm. 10 months now since I first brought her in. A small group of pigeons turned up just now and I wasn't going to feed them, but then saw Pandora was with them - she used to turn up with a huge number of mates - today there were only about 8. I can see that I will be pushed to find something to blog about, and I doubt I'll be writing one a week as I have been.
I spoke to Bertie's owner about the tick and she thanked me etc, but reiterated that I am not to feed him or allow him in our house. Really? That would be like saying to an old friend or neighbour that they can't pop round on the off-chance to see you and have a cup of tea!
Missing my babies, I picked up a skinny young pigeon with bad eyes and gave it a peanut boost. I ringed it so I can recognise it, but there wasn't much point as it won't survive poor little thing, but at least it won't be hungry tonight.
Sat 12th Oct 13 -  The little pigeon was here again today, but not looking good.

Sunday 14th Oct 13 - Appalling weather - raining heavily and so gloomy it was not worth putting Cloud out in the hutch. Bertie spent most of the day in and out of here. Sitting on the lap top so hubbie couldn't play his card game.
 And watching through the cat flap in the kitchen for unwary bedragged pigeons!
By early evening we thought he had gone home, but he came back through the cat flap at 10pm, bringing with him a dead baby rabbit - poor little creature. We chucked it out into the garden, and he followed, then we turned the kitchen lights off, so hopefully he will think we have gone to bed and won't bring it back. I don't particularly want to find a jammy mess in the kitchen tomorrow morning!
To be cont.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Alf and Meg slowly slowly grow up........and a white dove has an injured wing

Sat. 28th September 2013

Friday ended with Bertie the cat staying the night! Hubbie and I had already agreed to spend the night in different rooms, as we do sometimes when one or the other of us is not sleeping well, and I was going to sleep in the spare room. After having a bath, I came into our room to say goodnight to hubbie and found Bertie on the bed with him! Hmmm!!!

Well I didn't really mind, as we know Bertie is a nice clean cat and I used to sleep with my little dog, but I wouldn't sleep with him myself as I sleep badly enough anyway without being disturbed by a cat. So Bertie and hubbie went off to sleep, leaving the door ajar so he could get out and through to the kitchen, and I slept in the spare room. When I got up on my alarm at 6.45am, Bertie came to find me - apparently he had slept all night on the bed only getting up at 6ish, probably for a wee, and then coming straight back. What on earth would his 'owner' think if she knew he had spent all night on our bed!!!! Now I am not supposed to be feeding Bertie, according to owner's instructions so I won't be saying whether I do or not!!! But after he had scared the birds in the garden, he settled down again on the armchair for a nice morning snooze. At 10am his devoted slave arrived in her car looking for him, without phoning first, and much against his furry will, bundled him into a carrying box for transportation back to hers. She seems to think I should keep my back door closed permanently but it is often open, or I am popping in and out, and trying to keep Bertie out wouldn't be practical. We don't mind if he spends time here, though I would rather he didn't at the moment because of my babes, and if she chooses to come and get him, then so be it. I feel her irritation with me, but I am not cat-napping her cat, just being his friend! If she had only waited no doubt he would've come back to her in his own good time.

While Bertie was around I put both babies on top of the cote again for safety. Charm is on the step of the front nestbox - she totally ignores them and has done for ages. I don't rate her as a mother at all and hope that she and Lucky are not the residents of the dovecote next spring.

 Below Charm flies off
 Here, Charlie, with white wings, and another pigeon, come to eat from Charlie's special bowl. Alf looks on.
 Watch and learn, Alf, watch and learn!
 Meg, over on the hedge, pecks at the plastic of the box - that won't get you anywhere Meg!
 Alf pecks occasionally, but doesn't really bother with trying to feed herself. Today I am starting a new routine of only feeding the babies breakfast and supper, in the attempt to get them to feed themselves. They will be offered water at lunchtimes, and little grains sprinkled round but I won't feed them til late afternoon.

These squabs are terribly scrawny scruffy little things - adorable in my eyes though, and I am very much enjoying having them to look after. I know that their days are probably numbered..... they would've died if I hadn't been feeding and looking out for them, and they are still very immature and vulnerable. Meg, who takes an interest in pecking for herself, and moves about more, might have more than a chance than Alf - but you never know. I always felt Harlequin had less of a chance than Columbine, and he 'lasted' longer than she did - though for all I know she is living elsewhere, having possibly gone off with another flock. Now Harli is missing too as I haven't seen him for the last couple of days. Lucky and Charm's other grown-up babies, Dolly and Fennie, are both doing well and seen every day at the morning feed.
 Above, Alf, and below, Meg

 And again, Alf is above, and Meg is below. 
Alf looks bigger and fluffier but weighs less than Meg does
 Alf's feet, now both quite strong and she is not limping
 Meg's poorly foot has improved, but she still limps
As far as I am aware, the babies have never been down on the lawn. I decided to put them there this afternoon to join in with the flock and see what happened. I released Meg out of my hands, facing the lawn, but instead she flew towards the river..... Oh no Meg! Please God don't let her crash land into the river...... she would never survive! Thankfully, she landed on the fence, and looked so pretty I took a photo.

 I captured her carefully and put her on the lawn..... she promptly just sat down, and stayed put!
 Then I got Alf and put her on the lawn too - Meg is the white one in the middle and Alf to the left.

 Alf, in her usual unsociable way, walked to the raised bed and just stood with her back to the proceedings til I picked her up and put her back on the hedge.
 I only let Meg have a few more minutes - it's obvious they can't cope with being with the flock. My sweetest babies! Here they are at the end of the afternoon, snoozing in a sunny spell.
Sunday 29.9.13 -  Meg stands on the day box, preening, while less active and more immature Alf rests inside.

 But later on in the morning - what's this I see in the raised bed?
 It's little Meg - she chose to go there on her own!
 Clever girl Meg!
 And following her good example, Alf joined her (and so did the pigeons!) The babies spent quite a while there, pecking the soil. I was delighted with this as maybe they need the grit or the minerals. As you can see, we took down the runner bean frame (having made pots of runner bean chutney!) and also cut a bit off the tree of paradise to give Cloud more light in the hutch.
 This beautiful elegant lady joined the pigeons - probably a juvenile collared dove
 And Pandora (with the red ring) narrowly missed being trampled on by super-dove!
 Alf and Meg continue to enjoy the new playground

 Meg stretches her little wings..... and the next time I looked... wow!...
 She had flown up onto the roof! I wished I'd seen her do it - she's about 40 days and first time on the roof so behind 'normal' development by maybe about 5 days. Not too bad!
 A big white dove came over to inspect her - hopefully friendly, and just telling her what's what!
 Can you spot little Meg below? Not sure I know which one she is either!
 When Meg had gone to the roof, I picked up Alf and put her back on the hedge. I tried giving her a flying lesson, but she plummeted to the ground. She'll get there though in the end..... I hope.
 Meg remembered her sibling, and came back to the raised bed. Nothing is so innocent as two little doves sitting together.

 Cloud and Meg walkabout under the hutch
Monday 30.9.13 - I was going to be out til early afternoon so I decided to put the babies in the run til I got back. I know Meg can fly to the roof, but, knowing no danger,she would probably fly back to Alf on the hedge.... and Alf of course might fly to the ground or the vegetable bed and not be able to get back. Much better for my peace of mind to have them confined in the run. It's got the inside part, the ramp and a big outside run, so plenty of space to explore, if they feel like it.
Later - Alf and Meg are six weeks old today, and not a very fun day for them being in the run til I got back at 2.30pm. As soon as I raised the roof of the run, Meg flew up out and away to the roof. Alf, of course, had to be picked up and I put her on the raised bed for a while - before then putting her back on the hedge. She went straight to the folded up towel at the back of the day box to have a snooze.
Below - Cloud sitting on my lap for the afternoon feed

Meg stayed up on the roof til the last few pidgies were there - about 5pm. Below - Meg's fifth from the left.

I had already fed Alf supper, and when Meg came down she was given supper too, and then was glad to go into the nestbox in the cote. Alf, as usual, stayed out on the ledge, until I moved her inside and blocked them in.
Tuesday 1st Oct 13 - Started off very gloomy. Meg didn't fly to the roof so when I popped to the shops I put both babies in the run for a short while. They are allowed freedom when I can keep an eye on them, otherwise I shut them in - either in the run or the day box.
Sleepy-eyed Meg and fluffy Alf near the day box
A white dove - obviously female as she is being courted - arrived on the roof injured
 The dove first on the left has blood on it too - but it might be her mate - and the blood has rubbed off onto him.
 It looks a painful injury, but I managed to pick her up to have a look. I was in a hurry so didn't ring her or anything - just quickly checked her over and gently applied some of my special ointment. The wound was only a graze and will heal - there was only one nasty little deep bit. The other white dove in the photo, you will notice, has it's wings spread out. Often the hungriest doves and pigeons will do this - it's a bit like elbowing the others out so they can protect the food for themselves!
 In the afternoon, I gently 'threw' Meg up towards the roof - here she is ' a rose amongst thorns' !
Although I don't like Alf being alone, it is good for Meg to spend time with the flock and learn to be one of them. Lucky no longer even goes near the babies - which would be natural anyway by this time I suppose. Alf I doubt has much of a chance - she is a bit like a toy dove, mainly sitting or standing quite still. She accepts me picking her up, and feeding her, and drinks when I offer the little glass, but she doesn't actually do much! She will peck in the vegetable bed, if Meg is there - and will preen sometimes, but otherwise still has this other-wordly strange aura about her. My little clockwork dove!
Wed. 2nd Oct. 13 - Another day I had to be up and out early, and again I planned to put the babies in the run while I was away. Alf was easy - out of the cote, fed, and in the run. but Meg had her own ideas. I had fed her about two grains when she was out of my hands and flew to the roof. The worst of it was that Bertie had turned up in the garden, and I had to leave knowing he was there and she might at any time fly down to the lawn or the hedge - and meet her death at his paws and jaws!! There was nothing to be done, I couldn't reach her on the roof, and though I threw extra grain, she didn't come down to the lawn like the others, so I had to go off leaving her up there. At least Alf was safe in the run. My granddaughter is full on so I must admit I forgot about Meg til I was driving home. Bertie was still in the garden, and I couldn't see Meg anywhere on the roof - had he gobbled her up with no trace left? No, thankfully, in the end I spotted her - she'd probably stayed up there all day. Bertie was scooped up, and shut in the sitting-room where he curled up on 'his' chair, and I was able to feed the flock, and then Meg did come down - and miracles, she was feeding herself and doing it quite well too. While I had the chance, I picked her up and put her in the run with Alf and she continued to feed herself with the small grains I put in with her. I'm really pleased she has suddenly learnt how to do this, but will still top her up at night, just to make sure she is getting enough. She is the tiniest little thing, very small and light. The afternoon had turned quite warm and sunny so I gave Cloud a bath after her feed, then allowed her to walk round the lawn as usual. Bathing builds up the powder on the birds' feathers so they become waterproof. Then I thought I might as well bathe my clockwork dove as I am sure she wouldn't think of doing it herself - so first I warmed the water up to tepid by adding some water from the kettle, then I brought out a towel and gave Alf a bath.

 She is not waterproof at all, and was quite bedraggled when I took her out, but did seem to enjoy it in a mild 'Alf' sort of way.

Here's the flock on the roof in the afternoon.  Meg is right down in the gutter at the front.

 And proved herself to be female by attracting some male attention......
 She managed to brush them off before it got too physical and sat alone, preening herself
 Alf likes to sit in the warm earth of the raised bed
 And does take an interest in pecking the soil

Thursday 3.10.13 - Glad I'm not rushing off anywhere and can enjoy the early morning feed with the birds. I thought I'd try and get some photos of Fennie and Dolly - Lucky and Charm's first babies - who are still with us, and beautiful strong birds. Fennie is elusive, but I managed to get this one - here he is, centre stage, with green and purple rings.
 Here's pretty Dolly with her pink and mauve rings - she is always more easily spotted than Fennie and will come towards me, looking up hopefully for peanuts - which she gets of course!
 And a new bird with unusual markings was here - in fact there are quite a few 'new to me' doves and pigeons around at the moment. I caught a strong white male trying to get into the cote and ringed him with yellow and black rings - he is as yet unnamed.

Alf came out of the nest-box first - as is usual - and this time flew quite a long way from the cote - over the vegetable patch - and crash landed in the sage bush from where I rescued her and put her on the raised bed. Thank heavens she landed there and not in the river, just beyond the fence!

Meg flew to the roof without me seeing it happen, and there Lucky found her. When I saw a male close to her I thought Oh no she is attracting more unwanted attention, but it turned out to Lucky and he seemed to be looking out for her, and even billing with her, though I don't know if he gave her any food.

 Some babies get such close attention from their fathers - I've seen them in times gone by, cuddling close to them, preening them..... it's such a shame these little scruffy babies have mainly only me to love them (but nice for me!)
Looking at Meg on the roof....she could really do with a bath .... I might give her one if I can catch her, and the afternoon is sunny. 10am - the birds came down to the lawn and when I checked Meg she was near the run, so I gave her a few peanuts and popped her in with Alf - she can come out later but needs rest and safety I think at the moment. Midday - bucketing down with rain so very glad Meg is with Alf in the shelter of the upstairs part of the run. The run was a very good buy from Gumtree - an old guinea pig home! No chance of a sunny afternoon, so no bath for Meg. You might wonder why I just don't leave her out in the rain as that would be like a bath? - but she would get chilled if it continued to rain and she couldn't dry off in the sun. And these babies are not very robust - a chill might end up killing her.
Next 3 photos below show my darling Alf on my hand....

 And here she is on the lawn and today she started properly trying to pick up grain for herself - and succeeding! Well done little clockwork Alf!
 And then Meg on the lawn, with pigeon taking over!
 I have to try to keep the other birds away while my little babies are tentatively trying to pick up grains.
 Charlie has a bath

Later, when the rain cleared up, I put the babies on top of the cote - and soon realised that not only Meg but Alf had flown to the roof. Alf's first time up there! Wow she was pleased with herself and the exciting new view!
Alf on the roof for the first time

She walks to the top to admire the view

And eventually finds Meg for a cuddle
At the end of the dovie day, nearing 6pm, two tiny little birds were left alone in the centre of the roof - Alf and Meg! I hoped they wouldn't stay up there all night but.....
 gradually they worked their way down to the low flat roof so I went out and called and spoke to them. Throwing grain didn't attract them to the lawn so I just had to wait. This reminded me of trying to get Santa in to bed earlier on in the year. Eventually they came right down, above the side bit where the grain bins are, and peeped over the edge at me.

I got the steps and picked up Alf first, as she is tamer and less able to fly, and put her on my shoulder, while I grabbed Meg. So with Alf teetering about on my shoulder, back and then climbing to my head! I carried Meg over to the garden table where I had their supper prepared, and fed Meg first, not allowing her to escape. I popped her in the cote and blocked her in - all this time with Alf on my head! - then with Meg safe, I fed Alf and put her to bed too. Neither of them wanted to be blocked in but night was falling and I didn't dare take the risk of them coming out again. Whew! all done and only 6.15pm - not bad, a pat on the back for me! Realistically I know these babies won't have long lives. Like Santa, one day they will realise they don't have to come to me off the roof, and be put to bed in the cote.....they could fly away with the flock - and if they do they might never make it back as they are weak little specimens. I think Santa was about 80 days old when she or he flew away with the flock and never came back - these babies are at the moment little more than half that age.

Friday 4.10.13 -  Today didn't start well as Bertie showed up as I was feeding the flock and of course once they had seen him they wouldn't come down again. Alf and Meg were hovering, just about to come out of the nestbox, so I popped them in the run for safety. Bertie spotted them there but I made it hard for him to get close by putting the watering can on the top and various things around. Eventually he left, the flock fed, and I put Alf and Meg on the top of the cote while I had my breakfast. Not long after I checked, the top of the cote was empty ..... Meg and flown to the roof...... and Alf had flown to.....where? Ah there she was..... crash landed again, this time in the flower bed. Alf is truly another little Santa! Very much special needs. I got the steps and put her on the low roof and she steadfastly walked up til she got to the top. It's like watching a toddler taking their first steps. While I was watching her going up, I noticed Lucky and Charm billing together on the roof.......Oh no you don't! We really can't have any more babies this year!
My blogs seem long but there is so much that I don't get round to telling you ....there just isn't the time, and the babies are my main concern at the moment.
To be cont...