Monday, 23 June 2014

Too many pigeons!

Sat 7.6.14

One of the doves hatched in my cote turned up today - a male named Destiny. I looked back over my notes and found that he was hatched mid to late April last year, so now 14 months old and doing very well for himself. If I ever needed proof that the birds can manage perfectly well without me and the food in the garden, then he is it! It was definitely Destiny, with his blue ring on his right leg and red ring on his left. His parents were my lovely devoted mother dove, Summer, who eventually flew away and her unreliable mate, Sky. Here he is as a squab on my hand on 16th May 13

 and here he is today....

So sorry, this blog, I have had terrible probs with Blogger - maybe my pc...... I am currently trying to update the blog, so please bear with me!!!

 courting Miss Green Ring (ringed by someone else - and popular with all the males!)

 He made himself at home, trying out the blue water bath....

and then the pink one!

Seeing him for the first time after an absence, I did confuse him for a little while with Grace - but her rings are pink right, blue left - here she is on the porch roof. When you get to know doves you can see the difference between the males and females. The females have slimmer necks for a start, though this doesnt particularly show in the photo of Grace below.

In the early evening, Fleur tried to go to bed in her usual old nestbox but Snow White routed her out, amidst much squeaking – poor little dove, what difference can it make to him if she stays in the cote! I hoped she would try again later, but she didn’t and tonight was the first time she didn’t spend the night in the cote. I hoped she would return later, but no.....I can only hope she is with SW and will return in the morning. Fern had popped himself surreptiously into the side nestbox and I had blocked him in with his supper dish. I felt quite sad that ma petite Fleur hadn’t had the nice little supper I had made for her – but she is six weeks old tomorrow and that’s considered a grown-up by the daddy doves! The cote looked rather empty without her little face peeking out.

The nightly blocking in of Charm and the new little babies has been easily achieved so far. The last babies (Fern and Fleur of course) were left at age 9 days – hatched on 27th April and left for the first time on 6th May – when I took them in for the night. If Charm does the same thing this time, it’ll be next Wednesday she leaves them, so I will be on red alert (well I am anyway).

Sun 8th June 14 – I got up at 5am, unblocked Fern (I had left him blocked in with his food due to the jackdaws and removed the dish) and then unblocked Charm and the babies. Back to bed til 6.30am when I got up to feed the flock. There is now most definitely less birds than there were, due to my attempt to use less grain. This seems harsh but I can’t afford it so the birds now have to suffer a bit. Recently it has been like inviting 6 friends over for a nice intimate dinner and instead having 100 strangers barging in, gobbling up the food and leaving without a thank you! – and this every day! Unfortunately Brownie Mo and Tufty, the pigeon with the withered leg, weren’t there, but I hope will turn up later. Stockie was there and though not noticeably bigger to my eyes, she now can eat all the grains, however large, and is not fazed by me throwing grains near her, or standing close, or other, bigger birds pushing in....all of which upset young white doves and pigeons. Thankfully Fleur arrived back from her first night away.

Before 8am I noticed Charm leave the nest so grabbed the camera for a photo.... Although she was probably nearby I couldn’t see her, and she didn’t go back to the babies. Though SW was in the top nestbox he didn’t go to the babies, so I kept an eye on the time and hoped it wouldn’t be too long I hate them being left even for short periods at this young age but this time it was only 4 minutes before I saw a white tail entering the nextbox. The photo makes them look quite large, but actually they are still quite small..... it looks like some dried faeces on the dark one – I hope that rubs off!

Bandit and his mate are still trying to get into the cote – my males, Lucky and Snow White sometimes let them stay in a nestbox for a while, but mostly not!

Later – neither Brownie Mo or Tufty turned up, and I am rather worried about BM as I still feel he needs targeting with food to get enough. There was a young brown pigeon though, wandering about trying to get enough food, and it reminds me of Brownie Mo...... and it stayed well into the evening, sitting on the roof with a few late pidgies til about 8pm. Fern again stayed, and Fleur didn’t. Once they have flown away from the cote the babies rarely come back to it (the cote, not the garden I mean)

Monday 9th June 14 – Again Brownie Mo was absent and I can only hope is managing elsewhere. I wanted to reduce the flock, and have done – but it is at the expense of some favourites – and the flock still needs reducing further. Tufty came back though – hello Tufty! And this morning, while the little brown pigeon was trying to eat, I just reached down and picked him up, and brought him in for a nice big top up with peanuts. At this time of year, it is relatively easy to capture the birds and I have, in the past, just caught them to ring so I would have more known favourites – but I have restrained so far this year as I don’t need any more birds I feel responsible for – it’s better than they remain strangers! And obviously sometimes I pick up a poorly one and then have another responsibility! But this little brown one was the exception – there is nothing wrong with it, except fairly newly fledged, young and inexperienced, and hungry. A top up feed, even just one, is like you coming in on a cold, wet evening, worn out and discouraged and me putting a nice hot plate of food in front of you – very heart-warming! So I’m calling him Muffin, and he’s got a blue ring now!

 Muffin, wrapped up and brought in for a top up feed!

But looking at the photo of Muffin on the roof, he looks a bit slitty-eyed and poorly so I hope he will be alright. The white dove is of course my young bird, Fleur.

Later – someone else with a blue ring turned up in the late afternoon – Bianca! She’s been absent for quite a while now. I do wonder where these doves go to eat when they are not here. And she came back as if she’d been gone only a day – looking up at me enquiringly for peanuts.

and here's a male I called Banana!

Here’s the blonde baby with mummy Charm, and the brunette baby’s chubby bottom!

Fern stayed the night in the old nestbox tonight – not in the side. I’m pleased she’s staying as every day without having to fly goodness knows where, plus a little supper just for her, means she has more chance of survival. Did I say before that I think Fern’s female? She’s had some male attention - but if she is female, she's a whopper!

Tuesday 10th June 14 – A lovely sunny day yesterday, and it looks like the same today. My mis-matched new babies are a week old today! Muffin wasn’t there in the early morning but had struggled back by 8am, so well done Muffin! But still no Brownie Mo....I find it very depressing.

 Above, different colour hens eggs from the Poultry Farm at Ockham - blue-ish, greenish, buff, white, brown.....they're lovely!

Below, a baby great tit says FEED ME!

A jackdaw on the feeder - I try to discourage them, as that food is for the little birds!
On the inside window sill you can see an egg shell - I often keep one for a while after  the babies have hatched, as a good luck charm I suppose!

 Winter, another white dove that will come to my hand - sometimes!

 Here she is courted by her male....

Fern put herself to bed again in the old nestbox. I do worry about Fleur – all that extra flying to and fro and I don’t think she can possibly get enough to eat....

Wednesday – Brownie Mo came back! Wow, I was so pleased –where on earth could he have gone? Missing for 3 days – all of Sunday/Monday/Tuesday and presumed lost and gone forever! Hubby said perhaps he came when you were not around....well, yes, maybe! But he wouldn’t have been fed would he? So how could he manage with his bad beak and slow eating? I just do not know....but so glad to have that little brown figure, with the curved broken beak back again!

Above, Grace grabs a large peanut, and below, the wounded female is healing well, and with her is yellow and green ringed Charity, who once stunned herself/himself banging into the conservatory window.

Charm did what I had calculated she would do – left the babies alone this evening. They were hatched on the Tuesday so today are only a week and a day old. In fact Snow White was the last parent with them, and I did think he looked a bit confused as he peeked his head out, waiting for his erring mate to return to their offspring... but she didn’t and eventually he flew off. I kept watch on the cote while we had supper, and brought them in about 7.45pm. Their proper little feathers are beginning to come but they are still too young to be left alone at night, and this laxness of Charm’s means I have work to do or suffer the loss of the babies.

I had already prepared their little box, which I had ready from the last two, Fleur and Fern so I just brought them in and put their box in a carrying box in the conservatory, which was still warm – and later transferred them to the spare room.  I did weigh them when I brought them in and the blondey one was 179g and the dark one 161g. The thing I find hard is not knowing how warm they should be – I heated a microwave snuggle pad (hard round disc) and put it right under the whole thing, and in fact in the morning it was still a bit warm. Lasting from 10pm to 5am. After I’d brought the babies in it was a chance to clear out their nestbox. You might remember that Snow White had made a very scrappy nest, which I had supplemented with hay. I suppose, at the time, he felt he had already done the hard work of making a nest in the upper nestbox which of course then Fleur and Fern were already using. Anyway, I pulled out all the dirty damp stuff and put in new, then replaced some of SW’s sticks to make it look like home!

Thursday 12th June 14 – I got up at quarter to five and had the babies in the kitchen til a white dove appeared on the roof very shortly after – I was pretty sure it was Charm - so I zoomed up with their box and put them back in the nest – but I couldn’t go back to bed til I was sure that a parent was with them, and had to wait til 5.15am. The first doves were Lucky and Charm, and Fern joined them on the lawn for a quick early feed. This was all I ever wanted, a few pretty white doves on the lawn and it’s nice to have it like that again before all the hungry hordes arrive.
Brownie Mo and Muffin – my little brown pigeons with their green and blue rings were both there. Muffin is now beginning to hold her own and I am less concerned about her.

Lucky and Charm (green ring) - she may be rearing babies with Snow White 
but Lucky still loves her!

 Brownie Mo, left, on the roof, with I thought Muffin but might not be

Fri 13th - Here are my 3 cote doves - left to right - Lucky, Snow White, Charm

 and below is Mr. Strong, with his purple and blue rings and a little bit of a fantail - a favourite visitor but I havent seen his mate, Frances, for a while, so I'm concerned about her...

Sat and Sun 14-15th June 14 - I had my grandchildren all weekend as my daughter and husband were celebrating their wedding anniversary away, so didnt take many photos. I had to leave hubbie to block in the babies, and unblock them early - luckily he didnt mind as Le Mans was on and he was up odd hours! I took Cloud with me for the sleepover!!! and Cissie stayed in the crate in the conservatory til I got back with the kids in the morning.

Below Brownie Mo decides to join the bathers....

 He perches on the side.....with modestly downcast eye....waiting his turn

and gives a stern look to a grey pigeon who wants to bathe too.....

 and when the others have left, Tufty, with the withered foot, gets the bath to himself....

 Mon 16th  A lot of interest in the cote, with SW and Charm snuggling together in the most favoured top nestbox....

leaving poor old Lucky out in the cold the back of the cote...

New birds often appear - and stay forever....or just a's a new pretty brown and white regular...

Tue 17th – Another busy day with lots of fluttering round the cote, and Charm spending much time tucked well inside. She popped out in the early evening to grab a snack and I popped up the steps – one new egg! And the babies are only two weeks old today!*
A dove sits in the grass in the gutter

 Sometimes during the afternoon 'play' time, Cloud like to get away from it all and sits under the hutch

 where Cissie joins her.... or not! Cissie seems to enjoy time out on the lawn more than Cloud does and I often leave her out much longer. Cloud gets tired and wants to come inside.*

Sorry about the missing pics! As I said Blogger or something is playing!

I decided that as the day had been very warm, and as Charm seemed to be staying in the cote, it would be difficult to remove the babies, so I crept up the steps, trying to stay out of Charm’s vision, and blocked them in with their 2 ‘duvets’, the grille and a half brick, and am pretty sure they will be ok. In fact I worried they might be too hot – but hubbie didn’t think so. I had originally thought that Charm would leave the egg – then I would’ve blocked that in too, to prevent jackdaws stealing it before she got back in the morning, but she didn’t leave by the time I went to bed and was maybe laying the 2nd egg, so I just left her.

Wed 18th June 14 –  Charm was peeking out of the nestbox in a concerned manner when I got up at 5am this morning – and Bertie was on the lawn! Havent seen him for a while. I immediately shut him in the shed kitchen while I unblocked the babies (who were fine) and then bundled him into the car to drive him home. Not what I want to do so early in the morning. Poor Bertie, he is still disposed to be friendly towards me, and I still love him, but I don’t feed, pet or give him any attention nowadays to discourage him from coming.... and I feel like I have betrayed him..... but when all’s said and done, he is not my cat anyway, and he does have a loving owner. When I  came home, Charm came off the nest, and there was still only one egg........ and in the afternoon when the nest was unoccupied again I had another look..... still only one egg.

Thurs 19.6.14 – 8.30am – still only one egg.... hmm, the egg had been laid by Tuesday evening or before, so it looks like maybe she won’t lay another.... and possibly abandon this one. Unless one egg was stolen somehow, though the males don’t give the jackdaws much chance to get near the cote. Well we will have to wait and see. If the single egg does hatch it should be 5-7th July, but I’m not counting on it now. The extra cote doves – Bandit, his mate and one or two others, still hover round the cote and Bandit and mate go into the side nestbox facing the path BUT they don’t understand the no. 1 Rule of the Cote and that is that Grandma Dove (me!) is allowed to attend any babies which means mounting the steps and being very near the cote. So of course they fly out to the wire every time I do this..... which means no chance of them settling down and laying. Well, so be it....they must get used to me. Snow White, Charm and Lucky are all very accepting of me now and will often stay in position. I know I don’t upset them by attending the babies and we are on excellent terms!

 Above, the flock - or some of them! Below, the white baby appears at the window

 I was amazed when I saw the baby leaning over to the little dish and attempting to feed itself! The babies are only about 16 days old and I've never seen one so young try to peck up grains...

 and here is the 'big is beautiful' white squab Fern - as big or bigger than any other female and not yet 8 weeks old.
 Fern's little brother and sister, still in the cote, look quite intimidating, though fluffy! (aged 2 weeks 2 days approx)


Friday 20.6.14 –  Here's Brownie Mo relaxing and then preening on the lawn

 And who's this kissing?
 It's Lucky (right) with Miss Unknown White Dove - though I have a feeling she might prove to be Bandit's lady!!!!

I got no opportunity at all today to have a look in the nestbox so I have no idea if we have two eggs or only one. I decided that as the babies are now about 17 days old, I really should ring them while I’ve got the chance, so I got everything ready and at 6.45pm when Snow White and the main birds had left, I quietly blocked Charm in and then removed the babies into a waiting box. The white baby is being named Daisy, and I gave her pink and green rings, and the dark baby is Dusty with two green rings (that’s the same as Fern but as she is an all-white dove it doesn’t matter). Both babies are feisty and didn’t like coming out of the nestbox or being ringed and they both felt very fat and well-fed with full crops.

Daisy weighed 319g and Dusty 291g. These mismatched babies remind me of Dolly (still around) and Fennie (RIP) – Lucky and Charm’s first babies in my cote. I do wonder who their real daddy is.....maybe they have different fathers. Lucky is not doing any feeding of these two, though I have seen him perched on their ledge – maybe to eat some of the food from the little pot!

 On my knees for ringing - they are so cute! I never get tired of baby doves!

 After I put the babies back in the cote, I removed Charm’s block and blocked them in instead. I only intend to block them in for a couple more nights as hopefully they will be ok by now, and I can do without the early unblocking – I need a couple of weeks catch up sleep before I have to start blocking Charm in – in case she leaves the egg/s and new baby/ies in the night. It’s exhausting but the alternative is worse!

Cloud, above - I put her on top of the hutch sometimes so she can observe the garden

Lucky and new lady kissing and mating - ooer!

Snow White or Charm on the ledge is totally unconcerned

As evening came, Lucky and his lady stayed late on the roof while a pigeon tried to spoil their tryst

 and this photo was taken at the same time, but from the yard, where the sun still shone!

Saturday 21st June 14 - My little dog passed away 4 years ago today and is still very much missed. Here he is in June, poorly, not long before he died. I kept his blanket and didnt wash it for two years after he died...

Sunday 22.6.14 - Lucky is still with his new lady love. I thought she might be going to stay the night as she was peeking out of the back nestbox quite late last night at about 6.45pm - but then she flew out to the roof, and Charm seemed a bit disturbed and started peeking out too! It took her ages to re-settle and to be honest I don't need another flighty female in there giving Charm ideas about leaving the eggs!

I was up early this morning to go to a car boot - and on my way stopped to take some photos that I have been meaning to take for a long while. These old rather odd birds have been in my life for as long as I can remember! - I know that my RL friend and blog reader Linda will recognise them! I was brought up in Walton (as was Linda, though I didnt know her then) and as a child I always thought the birds ugly - but now I rather like them. I believe the building is Grade II listed.

.Rising up from a reedy and neglected pond are the Bird's Eye building metal birds

 Iconic 60s building in Station Rd, Walton-on-Thames

 Now forlorn and unlet for years....

 with the long pond in front

 which is still a haven for wild-life, including pigeons!

 Making the most of it!

Dusty and Daisy are to be left unblocked tonight - and for the first time since I brought them in 10 days ago, and then been blocking them in the cote, I will be able to sleep in and not get up at 5.00am or earlier! I plan to not get up til 6.30am - bliss!

Monday 23.6.14 - At 6.30am all the birds were on the roof, and the babies safe and well in the cote. I could tell Bertie had been around because there was a dead mouse on the lawn, all the biscuits in the shed kitchen were finished up and the flock were afraid to come down when I started throwing the grain. Eventually of course one is brave and then the rest follow.

Everything is conspiring so that I have not been able to publish this blog. I planned to definitely do it this morning, but Bertie came into the house and, as usual, I drove him home. His owner invited me in for coffee and told me that she is moving in July, down to the coast, and, in a way, that was a relief to me to know that he won't be around any more. I asked permission to visit him before she goes so that I can stroke him and say goodbye. Recently he's had no affection, strokes or anything from me as I have tried to deter him from coming here, for the young birds' sakes - and it's hard for me as I still love him. 

I don't normally dedicate my blog - but this one is dedicated to my most beloved angel dog, RIP darling, and to two other special pets (belonging to my blog readers) who passed away recently - May, a sweet rescue dog, and Hope, a beautiful white dove.

And to Milly Dowler, who was abducted from Station Road, Walton-on-Thames in 2002. I always think of her when I drive down the road, and say a prayer. Rest in Peace

To be cont.....