Thursday, 30 April 2009

High Doopendancy Unit back in action

Since I last blogged we have had no more baby doos hatched but we have two more doos on eggs, probably two each but as I cannot see in no idea at what stage they are. I think the first new babies should hatch this weekend but it is hard to keep track of things.

The first three youngsters, Fugly, Didgeree and Pipsqeak are all flying with the older birds now and Moby and Cocka should leave the nest very soon and start feeding themselves. Holly Doo is back in the house again, she appears to have 'gone light' again and is now in resdence in the dining room being spoon fed bicarb of soda , the traditional dove keepers cure all.

Herb and I have a had a quick trip to France last weekend, the weather was pretty dismal, rain and cool but the surroundings as ever were beautiful and the change was relaxing and fun as usual with Jacki and Chris being great hosts.

No more sign of the hawk but of course this might be because she is now on her eggs and we should be fairly safe for some time from the marauding airborne predator.

The garden is going to be blooming soon and today I bought some yellow and red beetroot plugs to start things off. The perpetual spinach I sowed in the autumn to feed the chickens over the winter has at last come up so instead it will be feeding the chickens and us over the spring and summer.

The Swine Flu warning state is now at 5. The aporkalypse is on its way. The Israelis want to rename it Mexican Flu for religious reasons, the Mexicans want it to be called anything other than Mexican Flu and the Pig farmers just want it to be called H1N1 Flu because calling it pig flu might make us stop eating pork. The EU is calling it the Novel Flu Virus to avoid any upset to the farming industry. The man in Boots the Chemist today told me that the Israelis were slaughtering all their pork.....mmmm, I didn't think they had any pork. He was a little flustered so may ahve been confused as he had just run out of Hand Gel and everyone wanted some, I got the last big bottle and will be selling it on Ebay and cashing in...or not! I loved the headline in the Sun at the weekend, Pigs 'Ere!

Good luck and stay well.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


The bird of prey above was in a field only a few hundred yards away from us. Murray took the pictures. If you click on the picture you will see it has a ringed pigeon in it's talons. Not one of Mine! I think the predator is a buzzard from the size of it.
Yesterday while we were in the kitchen we saw a sparrowhawk swoop through the garden after one of my doos, the other were wheeling around in panic and after they had all settled down and I had done a head count we were minus one. Murray and I headed for the fields at look for the hawk and the doo but to no avail. However after an hour the eleventh doo appeared again! Whether it had simply hidden I do not know but we are a big flock again, eight big birds and three babies. Cocka now has a sister/brother called Moby and Lily is again on eggs.
Poppy Hen appears to have given up laying eggs, she laid an egg weighing 14 grams recently and since then nothing ( an egg usually averages 68 to 70 grams) She is an old bird ( three and a half) and has done us proud, she will now live out her retirement until she goes naturally, she is still the most affectionate of the girls and my favourite. If she had lived her life as a barn or battery hen she would have been culled at 16 months at the outside.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Time to get tough

It has been suggested that locating a plastic eagle owl near the Bloody hawks nest may be illegal so of course I will not be doing that . However someone needs to do something. So many folk talk about the decline in the number of songbirds, who has seen a thrush lately?

The UK Raptor Working Group reported in 1999 that there were 34,700 breeding pairs of sparrowhawks and it was generally agreed that there were probably the same number of singles. Each sparrowhawk devours three songbirds a day.

The total number of songbirds killed each year is in excess of 113 million. If the RSPB is serious about trying to stop the songbird decline, instead of blaming farmers and cat owners, it should allow a controlled reduction in the number of sparrowhawks too.

The sparrowhawk eats its prey alive, sliver by sliver until a vital organ is devoured. It pins the prey bird down and strips the feathers and then the skin until it then tears into the flesh to reache the vital organs . It can take up to 20 minutes for a larger bird to die, one of my doves for instance. By encouraging the use of bird tables among its members, all the RSPB is doing is to produce a slaughtering slab for the sparrowhawk.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday....I hope!

Well, the time came to make the decision about taking the net off and letting the doos fly free again. The new bunch had been homed for 16 weeks and as my pigeon pals have told me Mrs Sparrowhawk should be on her eggs I went for it. The weather conditions were good, no wind, no rain and not too cold or hot for that matter.

Carmen and Murray helped with the release and we watched in wonder as four of the doves headed skywards, did two or three circuits and settled onto the house roof. The new kids, Fugly and Didgeree remained in the cote but the picture above shows them after an hour or so being brave enough to venture to the wood at the top of the homing cage.

Carmen and I then watched in wonder as not FIVE minutes after the release the sparrowhawk flew past, over the cottages behind us and into the trees. We had always suspected that the nest was close but 500 yards away is taking the Mickey somewhat. However Carmen and I have identified the nest and it is a text book hawk built des res (McDoonalds in the vicinity) . It is in a fairly substantial climbable tree so I am going to get someone, ( not me) to climb the tree and affix my giant plastic eagle owl close to the nest in the hope that it will deter the hawk. Hopefully the hawks will leave Moonzie and relocate, relocate, relocate.PLEASE.

On the baby doo front we now have Fugly and Didgeree who are 6 weeks, Pipsqueak who is 2 weeks, Cocka ( Doodle Doo....named by Stuart) who is about a week and she/he may even have a sibling that we do not know about. There has been a lot of bonking before and since the release and two other doos are nest building in the cote so we could have even more eggs on the way.

Fingers crossed that all the doos have a very happy Easter and that none of them get eaten yet! It will be a shame if they do but I suppose going on last years events we had four eaten by the dog next door who is now more disciplined, and two by the hawk. So 50% of my second flock were eaten by a raptor and as I now have 9 birds even allowing for collateral damage we should get to the end of the year with some birds in hand and you know what they say about birds in the hand! If my girl doos have babies at this rate all summer and none get eaten I could, by my reckoning and poor maths, have in excess of twenty doos, I will have run out of smart names, the windows will be covered in doo poo and I may even be inviting the hawk to Come Dine with Me.

Happy Easter!