Friday, 2 August 2013

Broodies and Baby Birds

For the last month there has been a strange hissing noise emanating from the Ash trees in the back garden. For the baby Little Owls have been very demanding of their parents. This, in turn, has resulted in some great opportunities to watch the owls hunting and interacting during daylight hours.

Meanwhile in the stables every few minutes there is a rapid crescendo of twittering as the adult swallows fly back to their mud nests to feed their young and get them ready for their flight back to Africa in a month or so. In fact the swallows are on at least their second brood now, maybe even their third. But time is running short for the newest babies. Already there are congregations of up to a hundred swallows over the farm, occasionally harassed by a hobby looking to pluck an inexperienced youngster out of the air.
The Pied Wagtails have successfully reared two broods too. The first in a clump of nettles by the compost bin and the second under some pallets by the door of the polytunnel. The other morning I opened up the tunnel to find a fledged young bird stuck inside. It soon found its way out though.
And down amongst the courgettes and sweetcorn (and, let's be honest, protected by the extensive weed cover) I keep flushing a family of Red-legged Partridges. The babies can only be a few days old, little balls of fluff with clockwork legs. 

The domestic fowl are determined to raise some youngsters too. Elvis, as you know, has been sat on duck eggs for the last four weeks. She is now a surrogate mum.
Chocolate, the French Copper Marans hen has spent most of the last month cooped up in her hen house next to the Indian game hen. When I lift the lid to check for eggs they both raise their back ends in a show of unified indignation.
Priscilla, one of Elvis's first surrogate chicks, and herself a mu  last year, has been sat tight in the main egg-laying house for weeks too. She makes collecting the eggs somewhat of an adventure!

Three of the guineafowl girls are attempting to sit on the three clutches of nine eggs each which I left for them. Over two days we took away a further 87 eggs from them!!
Just some of the eggs that we took off the guineas.
But just this week I found this...

Yes, Lady Guinea, the original girl, has been secretly building her own stash of eggs well away from the others in the long grass by the stables. I was beginning to notice her squawking around in thus area a few times. I'm guessing she'll start sitting any day now.

But not two yards away from this sits this long lost girl...

Yes, the girl who has persistently laid her eggs in secret places all around the farm has finally succeeded in incubating a brood. I actually found her about a week ago and she has 17 eggs underneath her.
Well, here's the exciting thing.

For this morning Sue came into the house and interrupted me putting up shelves to announce that she had seen two new born chicks and could hear some of the eggs peeping.

So it looks like there'll be some more very cute piccies to show you soon, as well as a lot more birds on the farm this summer.

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