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.


Fennie said...

That's a very sad blog, Faith. I wonder what was wrong with your babies. Could it be a parasite - a worm or something? They should have been building up their strength for winter. Wondering also if there is some epidemic going around given that you are losing so many of your flock.
Or maybe as it's the shooting season, they are getting shot. But I can imagine your sadness about Alf and Meg and send you a virtual hug. There will be more babies if you can bear looking after them.

Guernsey Girl said...

You write in such a moving way and I feel like I'm going through all this with you, Faith. I really think this would make a beautiful book. Thinking about you. x

hopeinparis said...

Oh, Faith, I'm really sorry about poor little Alf and Meg. It's heartbreaking to lose them. You took such good care of them. Sending you my sincere sympathy and love. xx

CAMILLA said...

So sorry to hear about the little babies Faith. RIP Alf and Meg. You did all that you could with your amazing love and care.

Big Hug.