Sunday, 23 May 2010

A guddle of hens, Bob and Breeze

I am not even sure how you spell guddle, but if there ever was one, this was one.  It has been hot and muggy today, overcast but still bright, air very still and silent but for swallows calling as they swoop into the yard and out again, distant call of lambs in the field below the house, and the chitter chatter of sparrows and finches on the bird table.   The clumps of montbretia against the farmhouse wall provide perfect dusting baths for the hens but I have never seen them in such a tight ball of everyone's feathers before.  All together, in a hot heap, sunning themselves, dust-bathing, pecking at the lush grasses, rolling and turning over in the soil underneath the montbretia foliage.

Bob has now got the message about the bottle feeding and baas whenever we appear.  He cannot drink fast enough.  Breeze is a little slower to learn, but she was more poorly when they came in, so it is not surprising I suppose.  She is taking some milk but she tends to chew the teat rather than sook!   Both are penned off in a corner of the field shelter, with hay, nuts and water.  We need to keep them indoors until we are sure they will both come running for the bottle once we let them out!  You can usually tell a bottle fed lamb as they baa as soon as they hear human voices.

Last afternoon as guests arrived for Shian we noticed a lamb baa-ing in a field where it shouldn't have been, with its mother steadfastly ignoring the call in a neighbouring field. Intervention was called for, and we managed to re-unite them fairly easily without a dog.  On our way back we stopped to see how the tadpoles were getting on in the lochan beside Duill.  We found none, and the level of water in the lochan was quite low - there has been so little rain.  In the process of looking about at the water margin, we disturbed a female mallard which clumsily flew across to the other side of the lochan, leaving behind her a fluffy raft of ducklings.  We made a hasty retreat so she could get back to them.

Late afternoon sunlight in the wood walking the dogs, with almost monochrome glinting silvery light on the sea towards the Headland.

Lots of sightings of the corncrake near Toechtamhor at Haunn which is exciting.  We hope that dog owners will be extra careful when they are either staying here or walking through the farm, keeping their dogs under control when they are out walking so they don't disturb them, and the other ground nesting birds benefiting from the species rich grassland at Haunn.  We have put an Outdoor Access Code sign up in the yard notifying path users that there are ground nesting birds, and hope that everyone will take heed.  It would be wonderful if they managed to safely breed.
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