|Spot the birdy|
It's been an absolutely beautiful day here today and Sue and I have busied ourselves to make the most of it. Jobs knocked off the list have included winter washing the orchard trees, spraying the polytunnel against red spider mite (more on these two in the next post), planting up winter aconites, snowdrops and grasses, cleaning out the chickens (Sue) and starting to rearrange and plant up the extended herb bed.
It all finished with a beautiful sunset against which I was lucky enough to watch a barn owl hunting, a perched little owl and a little egret fly right over the farm for the second successive night. The barn owl was probably the same individual which had flown from the old ash tree earlier in the day and which has been spending more and more time hunting on the farm of late.
As for the little owl, I saw it for the first time in a while last night. I guess that they are nesting at the moment, as they always go incredibly secretive. Anyhow, as I was pottering away in the herb bed this evening I became aware of a right old racket going on behind me. I could hear multiple blackbirds, great tis and blue tits all very agitated. I knew from experience that there must be a bird of prey somewhere and expected to see the barn owl perched back in the ash tree, but to my surprise it was the little owl which was the subject of such outrage. It was perched out right at the top of the tree. I remember this sort of behaviour last year and wonder if it is not a sign that chicks have hatched. That would cause the adults to have to be out hunting more and potentially keener to keep an eye on what is going on outside too.
The owl stayed in the tree for about an hour and as the sky turned flame red it started calling and was answered by another. All good news.
But it was an altogether more tame bird which provided the find of the day by Sue. My Crested Cream Legbar girls (chickens, in case you're wondering) came back into lay about a month ago. It's easy to tell which are their eggs as they are blue. A friend of ours is keen to have some of their offspring, so we put the first four eggs aside ready to go in the incubator but then...nothing. Not a single further blue egg. In fact, the only blue eggs we have seen since are tiny little specimens, presumably laid by the younger birds just coming into lay for the first time.
I had a sneaking suspicion that the girls were in fact laying, just not where they are supposed to! They spend a lot of their time scratching around near the stables and I did discover a couple of their eggs in there, but as soon as I took them they stopped laying there. Mistake on my part.
And so, today, Sue was in the right place at the right time to observe one of the girls creep stealthily under a large prickly pyracantha bush which grows right next to the patio doors. There she sat and with that was solved the mystery of the disappearing blue eggs. She finally moved off to reveal a stash of ten eggs. The plan now is to leave them until we can take a dozen for the incubator and leave some to encourage the hen to keep on laying.
|The secret stash|