Sunday, 28 February 2016

Meet the Captain

A couple of years ago a peahen moved into Don's. It was when he had a bantam cockerel wandering about and one day the peahen appeared from nowhere to nab the corn he was putting down.

It didn't take long for the peahen to find our side of the road and a free meal every morning and every afternoon.

Over time she has become more and more tame and she now spends most of her time hanging about with the turkeys and various other poultry.

Displaying to the turkeys
She's still pretty wild though. She wanders far and wide and occasionally roosts high up in the old ash trees. Other times she flies up into the roadside hedge with the pheasants. In the springtime she issues loud bugle calls as her not inconsiderable frame hurtles across the garden, for she is surprisingly good at flying.

Last spring the poor girl laid five eggs and patiently sat on them, but with no boy around her venture was always doomed to failure.

So a couple of weeks I got to thinking. Would it be possible to find a mate for her? I put a speculative post onto the Fenland Smallholders Club Facebook page - anybody know where I might be able to get hold of...?
I'd already had a quick look on the internet and found some quite staggering prices! The one that stood out was an advert for male peacocks for £30 each, but they were only young birds and over 100 miles away.
Anyway, the Facebook enquiry yielded results. Mainly suggestions of local collections of peacocks, then BINGO. An offer of a fully-tailed (so at least 3 years old) male peacock from another smallholder down in Breckland. He just needed to entice it into a pen.

And so yesterday the message came. Peacock penned. Ready for collection. I would have gone over there and then, but patience prevailed, for it would be better if he arrived at his new home in the dark.

Late yesterday afternoon Sue and I pulled up and were shown to the pen. Another cock bird bounded along the path ahead of us and into the woodland. If ours was this athletic, we were in for quite an ordeal! Our peacock looked rather splendid and had a fine tail on him. I say 'had', for the first effort to catch him resulted in a rather spectacular shedding of tail feathers! Sue keenly collected them up for school. We'll probably need to wait till next year for the tail to grow in properly again. They shed the display feathers in the autumn and regrow them again in late winter ready to woo the females.
Once captured, our boy was fitted with a bodice (made from an old feed bag) and we placed him gently into the back of the car, where he sat quietly for the hour long journey home.

We carried him down in the dark and placed him into his pen - he won't be in here for long, but he needs to get used to his surroundings before he decides to fly across the fields! He also needs to realise that there is a female around. We'll leave him penned for about a week and then cross our fingers and let him out when the hen is nearby. Let's hope she likes him.

The Captain in his temporary pen. The white at the base of his tail is the quills now showing after he shed half his feathers.

And as for his name, The Captain, you'll have to be old enough to remember a show called Are You Being Served to get that one.

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