My last blog was 2nd November so another month has flown by and we are in the lead up to Christmas. If I had been writing my blog regularly I would've only been able to do one-liners - like 'the sparrowhawk was here today but didnt kill' and 'Dolly flew up to the dovecote where she was hatched - I was so surprised' - as nothing much has happened.
During November I was doing a roll-call to see which doves were still around. The following list probably means more to me than it will to you and at long last I have got myself organised and have it saved on my pc in alphabetical order!
Autumn, Banana, Bandit, Bianca, Black (green ring), Blackie, Black Lace, Cassidy, Charity, Charlie, Charm, Checker, Checker2 (blue yellow ring), Destiny, Dolly, Fennie, Fletch, Frances, Grace, Jet, Joseph - black, Lucky, Mr. Strong, Pandora, Phoebus, Pigeon-toe, Rose-Red, Snow-White, Spokespigeon, Winter, Wooden-eye
Obviously there are many many more doves and pigeons than those named - and many more that I recognise.
Unfortunately since doing the roll-call, both Charlie and Cassidy have completely disappeared - at more or less the same time too. I sense bad forces at work here - maybe they were shot when I kept hearing them shooting on the farm. This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I havent got over their loss and miss them both terribly. Charlie had been visiting since Feb 2012 when I rescued him from the sparrowhawk and ringed him. A while after the attack he developed a neck problem and there afterwards always had a problem with eating so I used to feed him with a little deep pot placed on top of the hutch. He knew when I had filled his pot and would come to my whistle! I very much fear that poor Charlie - if not shot - would perish anyway - away from my garden - as with less natural food around, the weather getting colder, and not being able to pick up food as easily as the others, what chance does he have? What a shame... I've known him for one year ten months. Here he is on top of the hutch, with Cloud inside, and below. Really miss him, with his beautiful white wings. Here for so long, and now suddenly gone.
Cassidy - my lovely Cassidy with only one leg! - turned up in the spring as a hesitant little bird, but soon became one of the quickest after the peanuts, and a great favourite with me. I am so sad that he's gone, but if, maybe, he turned left instead of right and went of with another flock, then at least he has as good a chance as the next pigeon.
The doves have been taking a great interest in the cote - Lucky and Charm - and another big white male, Snow-White, that I ringed a while ago. One day I saw him and his mate in the front nest box, playing houses while Lucky and Charm were out of the way, so I sneaked up the steps and went to put my hand over the entrance..... SW escaped but I caught his mate, and took her out of the cote to ring. I ringed her with bright pink and yellow rings, and then released her back outside, hoping I had not upset her too much - she actually was quite docile in my lap. I pondered on a name for her..... the only one of the seven dwarves names that I like is 'Happy' and, to me, Happy will always be Jose's mate..... so I thought again, and decided on 'Rose-Red'. I don't know if you have heard of it, but there is a story about another Snow White and her sister's name is Rose-Red http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow-White_and_Rose-Red.
Above and below, Lucky and Charm in the nestbox and Rose Red on the left side
Lucky, left, and Charm - you can see Lucky's right 'beady' eye
And now here's the other pair - with probably Snow White (the male) in the nestbox, and Rose Red peeking at the side.
Below, the new pair, SW and RR, on the table looking for peanuts - I like these two and wouldn,t mind if they took over the cote as I found Charm a rather inefficient mother, leaving poor Alf and Meg at night at only a few days old - I reckon that was the start of their problems. Finding them so cold that day was one of my worst dovie days this past year. Re-read that harrowing story here http://faithsdoves2.blogspot.co.uk/2013_08_01_archive.html
It's coming up to a year since I first captured Cloud who was suffering from paramyxovirus. I see from my dove calendar that I brought her in on 17th Dec 2012. I hoped she would fully recover, but she hasn't and never will - so she has to be a 'homie' and I will look after her for the rest of her life. Although she can't fly, and mostly can't hold her head up properly, there is nothing wrong with her mind, and I try to give her the best quality of life that I can - here she is with my grandchildren.
At this time of year we remember family and friends who are no longer with us - and I remember my doves too. Last year Sky anbd Summer just didn't stop having babies and my precious little babies, Santa and Snow were hatched around this day last year. They were their parents' fifth lot of squabs and had a very difficult start to life, being born at totally the wrong time of year.Snow died at only 26 days old I think it was, poor little scrap of birdie that he was - but believe it or not I still grieve for him (or her).... and for Santa, who I reared with very little help from S andS and who eventually flew away at 81 days old, and never made it back again.
Santa, left, and tiny Snow
Poor little deformed baby Snow, a day or so before he died
and below, Santa, in January this year
and one of my last photos of him
Sky and Summer, in 2012, had Elizabeth and Olympia, Lizzie2 and Pip, Spring and Autumn, October and November, and Santa and Snow. Then they carried on to have two more lots of squabs at the beginning of this year - Valentine and Grace, and Destiny and Liberty. Out of these 14 baby birds, only Autumn, Destiny and Grace have survived to be seen recently. I had thought that both Autumn and Destiny had gone too - but they both turned up. Autumn on the 24th November '13, and then Destiny the very next day. Both stayed for one day only, but it really cheered me to see them and know that they are surviving on their own, wherever it is they live. Autumn's about 18 months old now and Destiny must be eight months or so. Grace is so lovely - she's a bit older than Destiny, so about ten months - she also had a bad start in life, with the feckless Sky as her father, always leaving the nest, never sitting properly, and then abandoning the eggs while they hatched - if you remember Grace and her sibling, Valentine hatched on top of the aga - read the story here http://faithsdoves2.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-big-surprise-and-patiences-progress.html but what I'm getting at is that even with such a bad start it is possible for the doves to survive - (and Grace is now quite tame and will eat from my hand, if I hold it out down on the lawn with peanuts as a bribe! In fact she has even flown to my outstretched hand when I am standing once or twice)..... so when I think about Alf and Meg, and grieve for them, I do try to think that I did my utmost to rear them and there must've been something fundamentally wrong with them - because if Grace and Valentine can survive being so neglected..... Oh I am getting so muddled here, but you know what I mean... I hope!
Alf, left, and Meg - cute little things that failed to thrive
The cote was taken over by Lucky and Charm and they have had four sets of babies - Fennie and Dolly, then some unformed babies that didnt hatch, then Harlequin and Columbine, and lastly Alpha and Omega (my most darling Alf and Meg). I am so thankful that they didnt do what Sky and Summer did and continue having babies throughout the autumn and winter - it was so stressful for me last year. Out of these babies, only Fennie and Dolly were strong - and I am still seeing them both. Dolly is a white dove, probably a male but I still don't know. Fennie is totally pigeon with nothing of a white dove showing in him or her - I doubt if Lucky fathered him, but Charm was definitely the mother. They hatched about the 9th of May so are 7 months old now. I know that Fennie's name-sake my blog reader, Fennie will be glad to know that I saw him today, as will Jane (Hopeinparis) to know that Dolly is well.
Lucky and Charm seem quite complacent about Snow-White and Rose-Red popping in and out of the cote. There have been a few minor tussles but they have settled down quite happily together now - BUT of course it is not proper nesting time and so we will have to wait and see what happens then. I was keen to ring RR because it is so much easier when the nesting doves are ringed and I know who's who!
Pandora, the bird who had a broken beak, is sometimes here and sometimes not. When she arrives I am always overjoyed and rush for the peanuts. She is a success story from this year - and so is Patience the bird I brought in with a hole in her chest after a hawk attack in February. I havent seen her for ages - maybe since July when I see I marked it on the calendar - but even if she only lasted from Feb to July at least she had 5 more months of life.
Patience, as found - and below, having struggled to her feet, being offered a drink
Patience - recovering - and then Pandora, with her dreadful broken beak, who also recovered
Does anyone remember this injured white dove from the summer? Un-named as I knew that when the injury healed I wouldnt recognise her (or him). Anyway, she is still visiting, with the injury now appearing as just a discoloured patch on her wing
Another interesting bird from the past twelve months was little Huckleberry Finn - the adorable baby jackdaw. Once released back into the wild, I never saw him again - so can only hope he survived.
Baby Huck above, and then about 10 days later, released outside - on a good day of course.
Bertie, the cat, continues to come in and out whenever he pleases though we havent seen him for two days now. We know from his 'owner' that he goes under at least three other names - Babar, Eddie and Elvis - used by the people he visits! Another one-liner would've been 'Bertie nearly caught Cloud!' - what happened was that Cloud was on the ground having a short wander in the morning when I was feeding the flock - I turned my back for an instance when Bertie came bounding up the path, full of his usual exuberance - the flock scattered, he spotted Cloud - and he and I both made a dash for her, arriving at the same time - with the loss of only one feather for Cloud and a bit of a shock! Note to self - be on the watch at all times! In the photo Bertie is cuddling up to my left thigh in a very loving way!
9.12.13 - I saw the sparrowhawk again today, and I fear one poor pigeon that is showing symptoms of paramyxo will be an easy target. I noticed the pigeon a day or so ago, and today managed to catch it without too much difficulty - so I could hand feed it. I ringed him with a bright pink ring so that he's easily spotted and I will do my best for him, but I can't take in every bird with the virus.
10.12.13 - I caught the pigeon again today, and again fed him. I havent even named him yet. Grace too is showing some symtoms but nowhere near as bad as this other one. I saw Pandora again today - she's not here every day, or even every week, so it's always a treat to see her, and I rush for the peanuts (which she expects!)
11.12.13- No poorly pigeon.....
Oh well I think time to close this Christmas blog, and let's close on a cheerful note, Jane (Hopeinparis) has told me that little Chieko the pigeon she rescued from the Paris street where she was being ill-treated, has grown up at last and is now independent and Jane can enjoy her Christmas break away from home without worrying about a little feathered person!
Blessings from me and the doves, many thanks for reading my blog over the last year and I hope you have a very peaceful Christmas.
Photo is Fennie and Dolly as squabs in May this year
Two gorgeous babies that have made it to December!
(To be continued in the New Year)