Sunday, 9 April 2017

Birds in all shapes and sizes.

Dancing cranes

Spring has arrived.

The weather is throwing everything the month of April has to offer at us and all we can do is to take it. Snow, rain, sun and chilly wind one morning and then the next day starts cloudy and warm. Our dear sheep are ready to start grazing and sunbathing but so far outdoor life is more about wading in mud and chewing on hay. Dear Ebba is having a brilliant time in her play paddock at the moment. A muddy, water logged field is all she could ever have hoped for, it seems, and seeing her sprint through it all is pure joy. Trying to wipe her clean afterwards is less so, although Ebba is getting better at staying put.

The hens are completely bored with all and everything. This is the time to start roaming around the countryside and now they are not allowed to do so. The wind is too cold for them to be outside for any long period of time and the outdoor pen is a boring place anyway, they tell us, and they think we are being mean to them. Our two guest hens are leaving us next week and that will be another change in the hen house. Monty, our slightly dizzy cockerel, will be very sad to see them go and our five young hens will probably feel a huge relief when they can go back to being loud, wild and utterly charming. They have had to calm down a bit in the presence of the older hens. Our oldest hen Lina will miss the more refined ladies but as Monty will, yet again, have more time for his old flock, Lina will soon be busy ordering him around, all day, all evening.

It was nice to be able to help out with winter accommodation for our guest hens. They sang all through the dark, slightly cold winter, but I have made a promise to our lot that we will not have a repeat performance. It's too disruptive for hens, as spoilt as they are, to add temporary members to the flock. The younger hens got pushed far down in the pecking order and our leading ladies had to give way to bigger and stronger birds. Not the end of the world but, it was not fair on any of them, I think. Now we know and I learned my lesson, once again.

Trisha and friends are taking turns in tending to six eggs in one nest and four eggs in the next door one. I have never seen this way of mothering eggs before so we will see who actually claims the chicks, if they hatch. We might be in for a dramatic spring.... Mindy, our dear white sheep has offered to look after any chick in need of a good home. I have never seen an animal so in love with hens and chicks could stay snug as bugs in her woolly coat. Whoever gets chicks around here will at least have an experienced nanny service at hand.

Ebba is currently trying to learn how to fly. Our dear dog has realised that it's the only way to catch the very odd birds that has turned up in the village. They make a sound like an old-fashioned computer game (or as dear husband put it " like R2D2 "...) and Ebba finds them to be very annoying, first thing in the morning.

It's the northern lapwing, Vanellus vanellus, that is driving dear Ebba up the wall, around the bend and slowly stir crazy as she can't catch them. It's understandable in a way, as these birds like to fly really close to dogs just to lure them away from their nests. Add the constant Star Wars sound and a young dog can't help flipping out, a bit. Even older Mr. Chip found these birds to be slightly irritating and his hearing was not that brilliant, in later years. This spring it's a small flock of lapwings that has gathered here, rather than the from previous years.

The other loud birds, that arrived last week, are also entertaining us all with their calls. Ebba finds these birds to be fascinating to watch and fun to listen to. The common crane, Grus grus, is a big, calm and collected bird and maybe that's why it's more fun for a dog to study. Less flying about and more giraffe like prancing. They do toot from sunrise to sunset, so we all know where they are, even without Ebba at her "bird tower". It certainly keeps her busy with all these new neighbours and it's good for her to focus on other animals, than sheep.

Its lovely that it's less than a week until the Easter holiday is upon us. We all believe in the Easter bunny in our house so we have high hopes to find paw prints and maybe some Easter eggs in amongst the decorations and flowers (that are yet to appear..) in the yard. Anything that stays out on the step for a while, gets nibbled by passing sheep so the Easter tree and the daffodils must turn up just before the bunny arrives. Half eaten flowers and a brush-like tree cannot bring any joy or hope for a better world, to the poor bunny.

So, fingers crossed that we are not about to get an abundance of cockerel chicks in the near future and that Ebba does not catch the Easter bunny! We can also hope for a kinder world, a happy springtime for all and everyone and to wish for some warm, sunny days for our dear older sheep.

It's not too much to ask, is it?! Take care and do join Ebba's bird watching club, "It's fun!", she tells us.

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