Here they are in their debut video, Pinky and Perky the most gorgeous little things on the planet. I'm so proud of them. Their eyes are open already and they have primary feathers growing. Huge thanks to Jenny for filming them and making my day!
Sunday, 27 February 2011
Saturday, 26 February 2011
Well it all went wrong yesterday. My birds didn't come home to roost. Two of the birds who were on nests deserted them. I found a dead chick in one, about the same age as the two I took to The Haven, but I think it had been dead a while because it looked squashed. In the other there was a cold egg. The mothers spent the night sitting on the roof of the house opposite, presumably waiting for their mates to return. At dusk there was just one poor little girl left sitting resolutely on her nest. I don't think she had even come down to feed all day. I think she probably only has eggs because she was the last one to build her nest.
I spent the day anxiously looking out of the window praying to see a white bird. I was so upset, I had put so much love into those birds it was horrible to think they had just deserted me the first day. When it was dark I put the floodlight on and thought they were all back but it was an optical illusion and all the nest boxes were empty. Except of course the one with the poor lonely little girl but she is round the back so I couldn't see her.
In the morning the two birds were still on the roof opposite. It's the highest point and I think they were watching for their mates. I put some food in one of their red dishes on the front lawn hoping they would see it and come down for it but they just sat stubbornly up there. The poor little mother was still on her nest and was not coming down so I put some seed in her nestbox for her incase she was going to starve rather than get off her eggs. I had to go out shopping and spent the whole time looking out of the car window to see if I could spot my birds! I felt totally miserable with them being missing.
When I got home at around lunchtime I was thrilled to see that the two birds off the roof had come home and were feeding on the ground. What's more the lonely little mother was down with them feeding. All I could think was thank heavens at least with three of them I still have a little flock. I named them 'The abandoned Wives Club'
At about 2pm I went outside to hand the phone to Hairy Hubby when he started pointing behind me and grinning. There were clearly now FOUR birds feeding under the dovecote. I sneaked round the back to see if the little Mummy was still on her nest and she was! He told me that two birds had just flown in right over my head! I was almost jumping for joy. That made FIVE birds in total. Where the other two had come from I don't know. If they wanted to stay out all night they could have had the manners to leave me a note!
So at dusk tonight there are five birds in the dovecote which means that four are still on the missing list. Pinky and Perky are still doing fine at the Haven. I can't wait to see them when I go in on Tuesday. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? A nervous breakdown maybe???
Friday, 25 February 2011
Well the big morning arrived, today was the day to take the net off the Doves! Typically just as we were about to go out and do it someone arrived wanting the Hairy Hubby's attention so I had to kick my heels for half an hour. Oh the frustration.
We started by taking off all the logs which were holding the net down then peeled it back so that most of the dovecote was open. I didn't want to steam right in and just take the whole thing down and scare the birds incase they all flew and never came back because we were so horrible! One bird flew almost immediately, we had barely walked away and he was off, circling the garden in glee.
|Removing the net|
It was ages before another one would go. They all just sat there looking out. It was nice in a way to think that they were happy there and didn't feel the need to escape. After a while I decided to put some food down for them to tempt them down to the ground. Two came down quite quickly and had a fight before flying off. Eventually there were five of them all flying round the garden together. It was a lovely sight to see them and also nice to think that they were waiting for each other. We had a very tense moment when the local Sparrowhawk appeared. Now I know what they mean when they say 'my heart was in my mouth' I could barely breath! He was very close to them so he must have seen them but he didn't make a strike at them. I think I would have had heart failure on the spot if he had.
|Flying together, such a lovely sight!|
This left four still in the Dovecote. I knew there were three females on eggs so thought they probably wouldn't go anywhere in a hurry but one of the males was sticking with his mate. Eventually he flew onto the ground and went for a walk about. It was like he was trying to play it cool saying "I'm really not making a big deal out of this, I'm just having a stroll" before he finally flew upwards. The surprise was that the rest of the flock appeared from nowhere and he joined them. It was like they had been waiting for him. Well actually they must have been. They did a big lap of the garden and flew off, leaving the girls sitting on their eggs.
So now I am playing the waiting game hoping they will all come home after a good fly. I have put the Haven on alert incase they turn up there because that was the last place they were at. If they go back home to Happisburgh where they came from originally I will never see them again. I did see two of them fly over the garden about half an hour after they went but I was indoors so couldn't see if the others were about. I just hope they are all together. Mind you the girls are all sitting there waiting too!
Update on Pinky and Perky
The news is that the little babies from yesterday are doing OK keeping warm in their brooder at the Haven. They must have been very cold because it took them ages to digest the seed in their crops but had some supper before bed and "took it like pro's" I am told. I'm just so glad I had somewhere to take them. I know this sort of thing will happen again if I am going to let my birds breed occasionally so I am now on the lookout for a cheap secondhand brooder. It may be an impossible thing to find, I don't know yet. All they have on EBay are new ones at £250 so not really within budget!
|Happiness is a warm bed and a full tummy!|
Thursday, 24 February 2011
The more I had been watching the Doves the more I became convinced it was Mrs Bullyboy who had died. She never left her babies for more than a minute and even then only to feed and she would be right back on the nest. Whenever I looked out this morning there was no parent bird on the nest. All I could see was a wiggly pink back. I was becoming more and more concerned about them so I rang The Haven and spoke to the experts. I was told if in doubt bring them in.
I marched down the garden with a mixing bowl full of the dog's towels in one hand and a kitchen chair in the other. After a wobbly experience standing on a chair down there yesterday I wasn't especially looking forward to climbing on one again. The added difficulty was getting it under the net and into the Doves enclosure. The net is nailed to great lumps of wood and I had to get one high enough with one hand to shove the chair under it with the other. It wasn't elegant but at least for once no one was watching. Luckily I managed to climb up without incident and found two darling little pink babies with their eyes still closed. They were completely exposed and must have been getting cold so I took them down and put them in the mixing bowl to keep warm.
I would have liked to have kept them and looked after them at home but I don't have the equipment or the experience so I drove the poor little things to The Haven, feeling like a baby snatcher, wondering if I had done the right thing. I had to take Action Dog with me because she had her sore toe amputated yesterday and I didn't want to leave her alone incase she started chewing her bandages so I had a car full of precious cargo.
When I arrived at The Haven some 35 mins later they were taken and put in a brooder to keep warm. It seems they were well fed (oh no..guilt!) but at only about a week old they should have had a parent on them all the time to keep them warm so it seems I had done the right thing taking them in. Oh relief! I was told that they had a bit of a rattle in their breathing which could indicate a chest infection and would need some medication. I do hope they survive, they are such sweet little uglybugs, like little dinosaur babies. They were even making a little cheeping noise. I named them Pinky and Perky, it was the first thing which came into my head when I was asked what to call them.
Action Dog had a great time when we were there. I had to carry her because she was far too interested in the caged birds on the floor when I put her down plus I was concerned about her dressing getting wet. I have been told it must stay perfectly dry so I am really paranoid, even putting the hairdryer on her other feet if she has been out in the garden incase they soak her bandage. She has to wear two sandwich bags and a rubber band over the dressing when she goes outside. The highlight of her visit (for me not for her cos she wasn't amused) was when Woodie the Collared Dove who loves everyone tried to sit on her head. Poor little dog, she has had a bad week! Actually, what a week I have had come to think of it! Monday I found Mrs Bullyboy dead, Wednesday Action Dog had her operation and now Thursday I had to do a mercy dash to save the babies. I am not sure I want to get up tomorrow just incase!
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
I lost one of my Doves the day before yesterday. They were all fine in the morning, I went out to the pet shop to get them some new food and when I came back one was dead on the floor. It was still warm, very warm so only just dead a matter of minutes. There was barely any sign of damage, just two tiny dots, on just above its beak and another to the side. It can't have been the Sparrowhawk, I wondered if a Stoat had grabbed it through the side of the net and the shock had killed it. I will never know but it was very sad and left me with the question of who was it that had died. The trouble with Doves is they really do all look the same. Whoever it was I was really sad to see one of my friends dead.
I thought at first it was Bullyboy because he was not sitting on the perch outside the nest hole. Then I started to worry that it might have been Mrs Bullyboy because the bird sitting on the Bullyboy family nest was not sitting in the same way as Mrs Bullyboy. She always sat facing outwards and all puffed up, keeping her nest warm. This bird was sitting facing in with it's tail sticking out. Also Mrs Bullyboy was rarely seen off her nest. On the very rare occasion I would see the nest without her and go down to try and peep in she would fly back up and sit there glaring at me like I was a babysnatcher. The past two days the nest has been unattended a few times.
This afternoon was one of those times and I spotted The Hairy Hubby straining his neck trying to see in. He approached my study window with a big grin on his face. Apparently he saw two pink bald babies in there. Typically he saw something before me as per usual!! I went down there armed with a chair from the kitchen table and my camera. The Hairy One is much taller than me and he struggled to see in so I knew I would need some extra height. I am not so keen on standing on things since my recent undignified tumble off the step-stool while trying to rescue a Dove stuck under the net. Actually that was six weeks ago and I still have the bruise. I planted the chair on the grass carefully and it sank in over an inch where the grass is so soggy. Not terribly encouraging. I climbed carefully up fully aware that The Hairy One was watching out of the kitchen window waiting for me to do ariel acrobatics again. I could see something pink but it was not moving and not clear, I am pretty sure it must have been babies. I did try and get a picture but as I tried to focus in the parent flew back in and sat on the nest.
I am still undecided which parent is left. My gut feeling says it is Bullyboy because of the change in brooding tactics but was that due to the eggs hatching? Not having any experience of this I don't know if they brood tiny young differently to eggs. I am fairly sure it was one of the Bullyboy family though. I will keep observing and see if I can work it out. The net comes off on Friday so I will be able to get closer and have a better look then and maybe some photos!
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
There was drama in the garden this afternoon. I had been working at Wing and a Prayer and had not been home long, I sat down at the computer with a cup of tea ready to catch up on emails etc when suddenly there was a big CRASH on the window about three feet from my head. I jumped out of my skin and looked out to see a Sparrowhawk and a Woodpigeon locked in mortal combat.
The Sparrowhawk got the poor Woody on the ground and proceeded to pluck him ready for dinner, there were feathers everywhere. I find it amazing how a Sparrowhawk which is a similar size to a Woody, but more slightly built can overpower one so easily. I know from experience that Woodys can be powerful birds, their wings are really strong yet the Sprawk can bring one down so easily. Maybe it's like a champion wrestler taking on a large but lardy man. Although the lardy man would have a weight advantage the wrestler is faster and has the skills to take him down.
Not wishing to have a death on the lawn I opened the window and screamed at the Sparrowhawk, telling him he was a bully and to leave the poor Woody alone. It's lucky I don't have close neighbours really because I seem to always be hanging out of the window screaming like a fishwife at some creature or other. More often than not though it's Butterfly the Squirrel eating the Dove's food, the greedy thing. He runs now as soon as my window opens. So anyway, as soon as I screamed abuse at him the Sparrowhawk dropped the Woody and flew off fast. The poor Woody flew off in the other direction at a rate of knots and made his escape into the wood.
I took the flying off strongly as a good sign but still went out into the wood in search of the Woody because from the chunks of feathers on the grass he was obviously injured. I couldn't find him anywhere despite searching for ages.
I have seen Woodys and Doves survive terrible injuries at the hands (claws?) of Sparrowhawks. The damage they can inflict is incredible, they just open the poor Woody like ripping open a tin can with an old fashioned can opener. However I have also seen Woodys survive injuries like that. There is one at Wing and a Prayer at the moment who had half his back torn off and his ribs exposed which was walking round the hospital as if he didn't have a care in the world. A couple of weeks on his skin is starting to granulate and grow across the gaping hole and today we noticed new feathers starting to grow. Mind you he had his wound cleaned and dressed and is recovering in a nice safe environment with regular food and water. My poor Woody is taking his chances out in the wood tonight. Unless he has the sense to come and find me that is.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Not so long ago I was gushing about how wonderful it was that the bulbs I planted were coming up and were going to look so beautiful around the garden. At about the same time I was also wondering what to put out for Muntjac to lure them out of the wood and into my garden. Well I should be careful what I wish for. Some rotten Muntjac has eaten all my Tulips! I went out to check the progress of my new plantlings and found them all chewed neatly off at the base. Needless to say I am not happy! I wouldn't mind but the wood is wall to wall with Daffs and the little ratbags haven't touched them, just my Tulips! It also looks like one of the Pheasants has been trying to dig up my Crocus bulbs. Maybe this is why there are no plants growing in the garden!
There is now a sign on the fence which states 'All Muntjac must be muzzled before entering'!
There is now a sign on the fence which states 'All Muntjac must be muzzled before entering'!
Monday, 14 February 2011
I visited Hickling NWT today, the first time this year. Last time I went it was flooded and I had the choice of turning back or swimming for my life so I have been avoiding the place till the weather cheered up. I am pleased to say I did not need my life jacket or even my wellies today, there was lots of mud but us hardcore birders (cough) are not phased by things like mud.
The reserve was quiet which is not unusual, I always think of Hickling as somewhere nice to go for a walk rather than a birding extravaganza. Sorry to anyone who thinks its the birding capital of The Broads but usually I don't even take my scope. The highlight of my walk was spotting a Skylark in full song flight. Not rare but it always lifts my heart to see such a little bird so full of himself, singing his little heart out so ridiculously high.
There is a lot of work going on at the reserve, they are putting in new flood defenses and have been chopping down half the trees on the trails to make room for the machines. Every few feet there was a pile of shredded tree, it looked like rows of tree graves. I hate to see trees cut down even if they are diseased or dead but seeing the slaughter of innocent healthy trees really saddens me. My common sense says that flood defenses are very important. After all I live locally, I don't really want my village to become an island in the new lake called Norfolk! Also clearing trees and overhanging branches will make the trail easier to walk along, a lot of the path was single file so now it will be much wider on the rare occasions I am with someone else.
There are signs saying that visitors should make themselves known to the workforce who will stop work and escort you past the workings. That should be interesting. Imagine approaching a big digging machine with its engine running. You cough politely, they don't hear you. You say 'Excuse me'. They still don't hear you. Yes it will be fun. Not. I can imagine they will love having to keep stopping to let all those birdy types go past, they will be real happy chatty bunnies as they escort you safely through!
|Yes, they will really hear me making myself known...|
|The workforce we expect....|
When I got back to the car there was a wonderful showy tit flock and two Treecreeper right in front of my car. Typically by this time my phone had rung and I was trying to hold a sensible conversation while trying to take photos one handed. It sounds flash but it really wasn't, I dropped the phone twice trying to zoom in and all the best angles were blurred. I would love to know why all the good birds come out the moment your phone rings, I am sure they know my ringtone!
Thursday, 10 February 2011
It has been a grey day full of drizzle today. The only real high point has been the Song Thrush which has sung his little lungs out all day long. He is the first I have heard this year. I love those season's firsts, especially the Spring ones because they are so full of promise. I like to think it is the same Song Thrush which sang all day every day last year. I know it is probably not but the romantic in me likes to think it's the same bird back up in his high tree singing his song for me. I think Song Thrush is just about my favourite birdsong, there is something comforting about it's repetition. I can still remember identifying my first Song Thrush by song, I was walking my dogs in Claybury Woods. Obviously I knew what they looked like but I was so chuffed to have picked one up on it's song. It never ceases to amaze me how I have a terrible memory yet can remember most of my birding 'firsts' as clearly as if it were yesterday. In fact sometimes yesterday is a bit blurry with me so even clearer than yesterday!
I could pretty much tell you were I was when I saw/heard my first of most birds, not just the rare ones but the commoner ones too. I especially remember my first Wren. It's a very precious memory to me because it's one of the few really clear happy memories I have of my late father. We were somewhere in North Norfolk on holiday. We had hired a horse drawn gypsy caravan for a week. It seems the most bizarre thing to do looking back now but that's what we did. The three of us and our little Cairn Terrier, Sally, all together in a tiny gypsy caravan. We spent the day clip-clopping along the country roads and in the evening would pull up on any available patch of grass, like a village green, tether the horse and camp for the night. Thinking about it now I can't believe we were not moved on by the police of lynched by angry villagers but that's what the people who rented the caravans out told us to do. Add to that we had no experience with horses at all it could have been a total disaster but it was actually really fun. Anyway, on the day in we had stopped for the day on a common somewhere, I remember there were gorse bushes. Dad and I were sitting on a blanket and I had my treasured bird book out. I still have that book and I still love it. I remarked to Dad that I had never seen a Wren. He appeared shocked and looked around for about 20 seconds before saying 'There's one' and pointing to a lovely little Jenny Wren sitting in the bushes. I was dead chuffed and so impressed that he had found one just like that. So that was my first Wren and a lovely memory.
|This was our home for a week!|
Monday, 7 February 2011
Sometimes The Hairy Hubby comes up with ideas which are really good. Other times they are just plain wierd. Check out his wonderful idea of how to defrost the fish for our tea tonight quickly..
I am not sure if it was total insanity or pure genius because it did actually work. But I spent the whole afternoon watching out for swooping Herring Gulls trying to make off with my Haddock!
I am not sure if it was total insanity or pure genius because it did actually work. But I spent the whole afternoon watching out for swooping Herring Gulls trying to make off with my Haddock!
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Spring was bursting out all over in the garden today. My grandson and I did one of our 'nature trail' walks around the garden looking for all the bulbs we had planted in the Autumn. I am pleased to say that they all seem to be coming up. There are crocus shoots everywhere and also some Tulips that I had forgotten about! There are lots of snowdrops now too. I have some extra ones which The Hairy One dug up from a corner of the wood where no one goes shhhhh.
There are also tiny leaves on my Elder tree, I was most excited to see them! It's not much of an Elder tree, actually it's a bit small and sad. I'd love it to grow nice and bushy so I could harvest elder flowers for cordial and later berries for wine. I am hoping to make some wine this year. I've never done it before so lord knows what will happen. My Dad used to do it and I always remember lying on the sofa with appendicitis and the doctor coming (they used to do that in those days) and all Dad's wine bubbling away behind the sofa and letting of a pong like a brewery. I don't know what Mum was more worried about, my health or what the Doctor must have thought! Anyway I want to have a go so will be on the lookout for some of those demijohn things at the boot sale. Probably because I want some there won't be any!
I also have great drifts of Daffs coming up on the bank with the Sycamores, they even have some flower buds just beginning. It's a shame but Hairy Hubby is planning to chop the trees down and dig up the bank to build yet another shed. A double garage, summerhouse and lawnmower shed is just not enough storage space for all his
crap important items. I suppose that come next September/October I will be spending hours replanting the bulbs somewhere else that I will have to dig them up again from to make way for one of his projects. I am sure that in five years time my garden will look like a housing estate with buildings everywhere!
My grandson and I also had a good look at my herbs and were thrilled to spot the first signs of growth on the mint. We had a fantastic supply of mint for our locally grown new potatoes last year so seeing that really cheered me up. The other herbs seem to have survived, even my Parsley which I was sure would go to the frost. My plan for this year are lots of tubs of herbs. I certainly need a new Rosemary, I totally butchered my old faithful one last year and it needs a rest!
We also had some drama today with my old adversary Butterfly the Squirrel. He had found his way into the Doves enclosure again and got trapped in there....again! The trick really is to watch how he eventually gets himself out because that's where he got in. Then you have to block his entry route. This time the little rat-bag had chewed a hole in the net. I can tell you I am not amused! Well, actually it was amusing watching his antics trying to get out of the net, he was hurling himself about and doing somersaults trying to remember how he got in there. He is going to be a problem along with the Pheasants when the net is off because he will eat the Doves food and cost me a fortune. I always loved Squirrels before I moved here but this one (yes I know it's not just one, far from it) is doing my head in.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
Two entries in one day, I am surpassing myself! After my chat with The Gamekeeper and my subsequent blog entry here I think I lasted 10 minutes before my feet forced me to go out for a walk round the Blackcurrant field. I can't really call it the wood because I would only be walking through about 100 yards of wood. Anyway after trying to look cool and nonchalant I grabbed my boots and went out there.
It was strange walking along the path after so long. Like I had never been away but like it had been years. Rather like visiting an old friend. I walked slowly to savour the moment, stopping at the beginning of the path and just watching the birds and enjoying the sunshine. It looked very much the same as the first time I ever went out there, which will be a year ago in March.
|I stood here for ages just looking|
One thing I have noticed about the wood is that it never fails to deliver at least one magic moment every time you go out there. Perhaps that's why I love it so much. Today as I walked along the path through Home Wood a female Kestrel took off from the undergrowth, with her kill still in her talons. She took me totally by surprise, absolutely stunning and very close. Then as I reached the blackcurrant field there were three Common Buzzard circling over the trees, crying their mewing cry. One flew slowly towards me with the sun making it glow. It went right over my head, I could see every detail through my bins. Absolutely gorgeous.
I am very sad not to be able to go into the wood properly but am determined to make the most of what I am allowed to do. Not everyone has something like that on their back doorstep so I really ought to be grateful and just enjoy it.
|The reason for the ban|
I just spoke to The Gamekeeper about access to the wood this summer. Luckily I had not been banking on getting full access again because if I had I'd be heartbroken right now. Well actually I am but not as bad as I could have been because I'd not got my hopes up, plus I'd had a bit of a warning that things would be different this year.
Apparently the pens containing the birds are going to be further up this end this year. Or something like that. So I can only walk around the blackcurrant fields. Still nice, still better than nothing but when you have found somewhere that for some reason touched you more than any place you had ever been it just breaks your heart when you can't go there any more.
The upside is that I can photograph the deer again. I probably won't see Hare though, and I will miss sitting by the lake. Plus it has to be better than the past seven months of looking out of my window and not being able to set a foot out there. You can hear that I am trying to convince myself can't you?
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
We have had a Muntjac deer visiting us twice a day for the past week or so. Apart from a couple of brief sightings I have not seen Muntjac from my window in several months. This little fella has been coming right up to the fence, at one point he had his head and foot in the garden. Typically I was on the phone so was not able to appreciate the moment properly. One hand on the phone, the other on the bins is not a good viewing position. Why do people always ring me when there is something good out of the window? I can go days with nothing much to watch then bang the phone rings and suddenly the wildlife springs into action. Yesterday our deer was very close to the house, just behind my Laurel tree. I tried to take photos but my auto focus just wanted to focus on the wire fence and sadly my manual focus skills leave a lot to be desired. I could really do with some camera use instruction actually.
After this close encounter I thought what a nice idea it would be to put some food out for the deer and try and tempt them into the garden. As I always do I asked Google 'What to feed Munjac deer in my garden?' I found a couple of useless threads but came upon one with some really sage advice which I am sure would work. It said "Go to the garden centre, buy something you really, really like, or something very expensive. Plant it in your garden, step back and watch" With past experience of other wildlife, I reckon that would probably work!
We have also had a Tawny Owl visit several times at night. I often hear him but he only comes into the garden when it's Hairy Hubby's turn to put the dog out. I hear a shout of "Oh look, big owl......too late." Apparently it flies across the garden when the floodlight goes on so it must be sitting in one of the trees. There is a large ivy covered one in that sort of area and I have read that Tawny's like ivy covered trees so I suspect it's that one.
I have been promised by The Hairy One that an Owl box will be made. However with past experience I know not to hold my breath. He never specified which decade he was going to start making it! Maybe if a large sheet of ply was to appear very cheaply I might have a hope but I can't see him dashing off to the wood yard and buying some. But the main point is what sort of luck do I have that the dratted bird is never there when it's me putting the dog out? I am sure the wildlife conspires against me!
|A garden resident who does not mind me seeing him!|