Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ockie - and hatching day arrives

Thurs 26th March 2015 – If you read my last blog you will know that I am looking after a little collared dove, found on the road, and brought to me to care for. He had a pleasant day yesterday, sitting outside in the warm sun, protected by being in the run, but still able to enjoy the fresh air. I was glad that he had had that time because when I went in first thing this morning, poor little Ockie was dead. I was saddened but not surprised. I had done what I could but it was not to be. I think he was one of the sweetest little things I have ever looked after, but who knows what was wrong with him or why he was unable to look after himself. There’s no point speculating. RIP little brown angel.

Vistors on the patio! - and no I didn't feed them - there are hungry enough mouths already!

 Now, what is this white blob below?
 It's Cloud on walkabout, tiptoeing through the daffodils!
 Four pigeons were sent out to fetch her back!!!

Sat. 28.3.15 – The eggs are due to hatch this weekend, and of course I am looking forward to it. I took the grain over to the island to feed the flock first thing and when I came back there was a part egg shell on the patio – I’m sure it hadn’t been there when I came out! Ooh, Lucky and Loretta might have a new baby or even two!

Later – No more evidence of hatching, and because Loretta is a new bird to me, I daren’t go too near the cote to investigate. Although Lucky would probably tolerate me mounting the steps and having a peek, it is not worth the risk in case it did upset him. I don’t want anything to go wrong with my first babies of 2015.

Sun. 29.3.15 – Lucky and Loretta are good parents; not leaving the babies alone even for a few seconds, which obviously they shouldn’t do at this age. I did stand on a chair at a distance from the cote when Lucky was on duty, and I did see him bending his neck down and making the sort of head movements that would indicate that he was feeding. I wonder what the baby or babies will be like? As Lucky and Loretta both have darker patches in their white feathers, the babies could be very pretty.
Regular readers will remember that my last mummy dove, Charm, was very inclined to leave her new babies too early, causing me much distress, worry and complicated arrangements to try to ensure their survival. I am hoping that Loretta will spare me all this but I can’t be sure of it – these doves are not ‘homed’ to the cote and I have no idea what kind of mother she will prove to be. Charm used to leave the babies at night at four days old (when they shouldn’t be left until fourteen days really). All I can do is check that she is on the nest when I go to bed, and hope she stays there all night. Last year, something happened and Charm who was definitely on her nest when I went to bed, most unusually left the dovecote in the night or very early in the morning and her babies died – and so did the baby, and one unhatched egg of the other young mother dove in the cote. I still haven’t really got over that incident, and can only pray that all is calm and quiet for Loretta while the babies are so little.

Wed 1.4.15 – We’ve had a couple of extremely windy nights – more worry for me in case the cote should blow down! I don’t know how I manage to sleep sometimes. But all was well in the mornings. I still have not managed to have a peep at the babies, though I have tried several times more, but only when Lucky’s on the nest. Today when I was up there, I was pretty sure that I could see an egg – which would mean that one egg didn’t hatch, as it is unlikely to be an eggshell..... I think. I couldn’t see a baby.
I try to be around for the morning and late afternoon changes – when Lucky and Loretta swap places. This means that I can ensure the safety of the parent that is out, while it feeds, and also know that the babies are not left alone. The late afternoon change has been about half five and when Loretta didn’t come back I was concerned. I could tell that Lucky was agitated as he kept peeking out, and I wondered if he was hungry. It was nearly 6pm. There were a few pigeons still around so I threw some grain on the ground fairly near the cote, and of course the gannets came down – and Lucky came out to eat. I quickly grabbed the steps, moved them to under the cote, scrambled up for a look – only one baby, yellow and plump, and an unhatched egg. Lucky gobbled some peanuts and then.....flew off! Oh no Lucky! – your baby! I dashed back into the cottage, said to hubby ‘Loretta has not come back, and Lucky has left the nest’ – ‘Oh my God’ he said – which was not meaning oh my god, the poor baby but more oh my god now she will be fussing about the baby and bringing it into the house etc. I went and got my ‘electric hen’ machine and plugged it in, and fished out the fake nest which is an old hood of mine with hay in it. I’ll wait 5 minutes only, I thought, then I will bring it in. As I looked out of the window, there was a white flash of wings, and Loretta flew into the cote – thank heavens! Had Lucky gone to find her? Did he know she’d come back? Well, who knows, but I was so glad she was back to take care of their one baby. I’m not sad there is only one, as I am so pleased that there IS one! I had thought of some names for the pair, but now they are not appropriate so my one singleton baby dove will be called Solo.

Thurs 2nd - In the afternoon, when it was a little warmer, Lucky left Solo for a few minutes and came down to the ground for some food, then he flew to the roof but was back in the cote before I was worried. I managed to get you a photo of the first baby of the season.

 You can see the unhatched egg too. I didn’t remove it because – 1. It’s not mine to make a decision on, and Lucky is perfectly capable of chucking it out if he wanted to. 2. I have read that an unhatched egg gives the baby the support it would’ve got from its sibling. This is not the first singleton baby I have had in the cote. Flash and Omo in 2012 I think it was hatched only one of their first two eggs, and that was baby Fairy. My flightless dove, Jose, who mated with that wonderful intelligent white dove, Happy, also only hatched one of the two eggs – baby Pearl. My last baby of the summer, last year, Twinkle, did have a sibling but it had obviously died after only a few days, so Twinkle was brought up alone but unfortunately he wasn’t long for this world either. I hope Solo will grow big and strong as he has no-one to share the care of his parents with – which should benefit him, I think.
Without bothering to eat, as far as I saw, Loretta flew into the nestbox to relieve Lucky from his baby sitting duty at 5.25pm tonight – no wonder he was worried last night at nearly 6pm. Now she is in, I can relax, but just before I go to bed, I flicker the torch – first round the garden so she sees the light and is not worried, then for a split second on the cote, to at least make sure she is there before I go to bed. I have to remember that Loretta is not Charm – with her upsetting habit of leaving the babies alone at only 4 days old. And of course Lucky is not Sky – that dreadful father I had a couple of years ago who would leave the eggs or babies on a whim at any time. I do so want all to go well with baby Solo – and Lucky deserves a healthy baby. This is his 11th baby. In Spring 2013, when he was with Charm (his true love), his first babies in the cote were Fennie and Dolly – and Dolly is still seen every day. So she is two years old, and Lucky must be at least 9 months older than his daughter and could well be a year or more older, so he’s now about three years old (or older). The next two eggs that Charm laid were duds, but in July 13 Lucky and Charm had Harlequin and Columbine, and then Alpha and Omega in Aug 13. These two - my darlings Alf and Meg - were peaky – probably due to them nearly dying through Charm’s neglect and my inexperience – and I had to practically hand rear them. In January 2014, Lucky and Charm were still together and hatched eggs in January – the ill-fated babies that were left in the night or early morning by Charm, and were dead when I found them. I named these Hayley and January. After this, Charm was enticed away by Snow White and Lucky was ‘divorced’. He helped to rear the babies hatched from the eggs Charm laid, because he just couldn’t understand that he wasn’t the father – he tried to do his turn sitting on the eggs, and fed the babies whenever he got the chance. These babies were Fern and Fleur and I honestly wouldn’t know if they were Snow White’s biologically or Lucky’s, but Charm considered SW was the father. Lucky eventually teamed up with Loveday and they hatched Desiree and Chance later in 2014. Loveday laid more eggs after that but they came to nothing. If you read my blogs regularly you will know that Snow White, Charm and many other of my flock, including Loveday probably, were all culled by the owner of wherever they were roosting at night at the beginning of this year – leaving Lucky alone again. But now he’s with pretty Loretta, and baby Solo is his 11th baby in my cote (not counting dud eggs and the possibility that Fern and Fleur were his!)

I have a new and unusual addition to the flock - meet Seagle! So called because she has the proud demeanor of an eagle with the colouring of a seagull!!!

Seagle is the palest grey I have ever seen. Remember those 'his mum doesnt use Persil' ads, when you saw one kid in greyish football kit and his friend in sparkling white? - well, that's how Seagle appears against the white doves. She has very pale eyes too. Her looks have ensured that she gets regular peanuts! I am pretty sure she is female, and already a favourite with Lucky! He's got an eye for a pretty and unusual female.

Good Friday – 3.4.15 – I hadn’t seen my magnificent pigeon, Silver Shadow for a couple of days and had mentally put him on the missing list. About 6pm when all the pigeons and doves had left, and Lucky and Loretta had switched places half an hour before, I opened the back door to go out to the shed kitchen as we are cooking in there now the aga is not lit – and he startled me by flying down from the porch roof where he had been waiting. I was so glad to see him, and he ate peanuts from my hand, and then grain from the patio – really stocking up and having a hearty meal. He is twice the size of the usual pigeons, and about 100 times more beautiful!

Easter Saturday 4.4.15 – Baby Solo is a week old today! I have only seen him twice, but that’s more than fine, as it means Lucky and Loretta are keeping him close, warm and fed.
But this afternoon, I could see him from the ground, craning up to Lucky to be fed. I got the steps and had a look as Lucky is pretty tolerant, but Solo was tucked underneath again – I could just see his little bottom with some tiny white feathers already! Lucky is also keeping the egg with him.

Easter Sunday 5.4.15 – I was heading off to Mass but threw some grain to Lucky and some others on the patio, and Loretta came out of the nest to eat too – so I had another quick look at Solo, but again he was facing away. I noticed now that he has quite a lot of dark patches, which is not surprising as both his parents are not pure white, and we definitely will have darker colouring.
When I came back Lucky was on the nest, but again came out for some food, so I grabbed the camera and got the first proper photo of baby Solo, now about 7/8 days old.

We were out in the afternoon and didn’t arrive back til 6.30pm – obviously still light. Pigeons, Grace and Lucky on the roof – No Loretta..... oh dear. Well I fed the birds that were there, and quickly checked Solo who was content and warm with a full crop, and within ten minutes Loretta had arrived back, wanting food herself. While she wasn’t there I had whizzed around, getting my fake hood nest, preparing a box, putting on the kettle for a hot water bottle, just in case. But Loretta ate, then walked calmly to the water bath had a drink, then flew to her baby. I was relieved as Solo is too young to be left at night, so I would’ve had to bring him in which is always stressful, and also means getting up very early to put him back in the cote before the parents come back. So far, touch wood, Loretta and Lucky have been excellent parents to their one new baby.

Easter Monday 6.4.15 – Turned into a warm sunny morning, and Lucky and Loretta left Solo alone in the cote for short periods – which is fine – and sunned themselves on the roof, or pecked around the garden. As long as they – or one of them – stays close to the cote then Solo is now big enough to be left on his own for a while. He has all the beginnings of his white and darker feathers now and is getting a big boy! (or girl).

Lucky and Loretta alone on the roof - and on the patio

5pm – we came home after the afternoon out. I checked Solo who was alone but fine, then brought Cloud and Cissie in to the conservatory, where Chino had been left. A few pigeons came down and were fed, but no mummy and daddy for Solo. About 6pm two white doves circled and I could see from their tail feathers that they were Lucky and Loretta, but though they came down to the roof, they didn’t come to the garden and they didn’t go to Solo. I am now writing in real time - It’s now nearly 7pm and though he has a very full crop (despite me not feeding the flock this afternoon) and is warm, if Loretta doesn’t come back soon, I will bring him in for the night. It just gets too cold and I get too worried. I don’t like them being left at night til they are two weeks old, and remember Solo doesn’t have a sibling only a cold egg which doesn’t have much snuggle factor!
7.30pm – I took a call on my phone and while on it, went into the garden in the vain hope that Loretta might be there..... and yes, goodness me, a white dove appeared on the roof but the light was failing and I couldn’t see if it was her. It definitely wasn’t Lucky, but I wouldn’t expect it to be.... I threw some grain onto the garden table, and came inside so as not to distract or upset her... if it was her.  She didn’t come to the table but .....yes, she flew to the cote, waited on the ledge a few seconds, and then went inside. Good, good, good.

Tue 7.4.15 – I removed the egg from the nest today as it seemed to have a crack and I didn’t want it making the nest messy. Also, as Lucky and Loretta are leaving Solo alone a lot now, I didn’t want the jackdaws  trying to pinch the egg and upsetting Solo. I cracked it – and there was no real embryo at all....just a bit of a lumpy thing

I took Solo out for the first time to have a good look at him – funny little thing!

Below, L to R the homies, Cloud, Cissie, Chino enjoy the freedom in the garden
 Pandora, below, still manages to eat with her beak which grew back twisted after an injury more than 18 months ago
 And later on, the homies tired of pecking round the garden, rest in a sunny corner.

I had a feeling Loretta wouldn’t come back tonight. She was around about 6pm, had some food, flew to the nestbox, checked Solo briefly and then flew away with a determined clap of wings. I got things ready to bring him in, but waited til 7.45pm as she had come back at 7.30pm last night. It was getting dark and chilly when I brought him in and he had retreated to the far back of the nestbox. I really think it wouldn’t do him any good to be left alone all night, especially without a sibling to keep him warm. He doesn’t have warm enough feathers, poor little thing – though probably well developed for his age. He’s currently in the hood, which is in a bowl with a hot water bottle in it, and the whole thing is in a (partially covered by a rug) deep box! Before I go to bed, I will change the usual bottle for a microwave one which will stay warm for most of the night I hope. I’ll be getting up early to put him back in the nestbox hopefully before his parents know he’s been snitched!

8th April 15 – I set my alarm for 5.45am to be on the safe side...... but woke up in a panic when I ‘heard’ what I thought was hubby’s alarm (in the other room) and I knew he was getting up for work at 6.20am. I grabbed my phone – it said 6.18, I thought, so I pulled on a fleece and rushed to get Solo, think OMG the parents will be there, they will have found him gone etc etc, panic, panic. But with Solo in his hood nest, I arrived at our cottage door to find it still really I checked the time and it was only 5.20am! The ‘alarm’ had all been in my head! So I put Solo back and went back to bed – til my alarm really went off at 5.45 and again too dark so another 15 mins in bed. At 6am I got up and made tea but it was twenty to seven before two pigeons arrived on the roof. I had Solo in his nest in the kitchen by then, and I warmed up a big smooth stone and made a hot water bottle for the nestbox in the cote. I’ve done this before with babies and you all probably think I am mad! – but I didn’t want Solo to go back into a cold, possibly dampish nest!  At quarter to seven two white doves appeared on the roof – one was definitely not Lucky, but the other was possibly Loretta – so I popped out straight away, chucked out the stone hottie, checked with my hand that the hay wasn’t too hot, and popped Solo in. I think it was Loretta and soon afterwards Lucky turned up, and many of the others from the morning flock. But before feeding had really started, and definitely before Solo had been fed, there was an attempted hawk strike in the garden. I had just gone round the side of the house – and there was a brown and grey kerfuffle – and the hawk and its pigeon victim both flew up and away in front of me! I was pleased the pigeon got away, but the incident meant that the rest of the flock were spooked and they all flew off. Lucky had come back by 8am but I had to leave at 8.15am and just had to hope that Solo would get fed sooner rather than later. One thing pleased me when I cleaned up Solo’s night arrangements – the microwave bottle was still warm. 10pm to 8am so ideal for pets, in fact I bought it originally for my little doggie. So for the next few days at least, I will bring Solo in at night - but I don't think I will need to get up quite so early!

Lucky's the one doing the kissing in the photo below. Charm was the love of his life, he totally adored her and took it really hard when she went off with Snow White. He only paired up with Loveday so he could have the babies his heart craved for - but now she's gone too and he's found love again with Loretta and he really does seem to care for her. Already his mind is on new eggs!

To be cont......


Elsfield Chickens said...

yay for Lucky and Loretta!
seagull is a lovely coloured pigeon as is solo!

Fennie said...

You know you could turn this into a radio serial - more compelling than the Archers. The ups and downs of Dovey life. But all thi must wear you ragged. Would a couple of guy ropes give you peace of mind that the cote wouldn't blow over. And maybe you could put a little heater - even a small covered light bulb would do - in the cote which you could switch on when the parents weren't there. Sad about your second egg, but at least Solo should be a big chap and fledge early.