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...


Fennie said...

They maybe long, Faith, but they are always interesting. I hope though you are managing to control the size of your flock - there seem so many to feed. Glad the babies are growing up but the time they got so cold seems to have had an adverse effect on them.
I try to persuade all my friends now to keep doves and to read your blog.

hopeinparis said...

I was very pleased to read that Dolly still returns to your garden. My own Dolly has not been here for nearly a year... As for your long blogs, believe me, your followers love every detail, Faith!

Faith said...

Thanks both of you, for reading and your comments. So many people read my blog (the stats show) but it's great to get some f/b. I think you are right Fennie, it didn't do the babies any good at all getting so cold. Jane - maybe one day your Dolly will come back, you never know.