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End of British Summertime and care needed

With the change in the clocks last weekend it is no surprise that the birds are arriving for food at different times. It’s been pretty dull and damp the last few days in Kent as well, so they have been leaving for the day earlier than they probably would do anyway.
I know I have found that the food has to be out on the bird table before 3 o’clock or most will have already departed for the day. A few of the later departures such as the blackbirds and robins may be out there a little bit later than that.

I’ve not seen anything of the wood pigeons this week but the ferals and jackdaws have certainly been arriving in reasonable size groups and the sparrows too. There were about eight sparrows on the feeder and in the tree beside it the other afternoon. A pair of collared doves have also been regular visitors to the birdfeeder and at times the bird table and my picture this week is two of them sitting on the top of a conifer shortly before flying off for the night.

On Monday of this week, a feral pigeon seemed to be in some difficulty out on my lawn and appeared to be unable to fly. It fluttered across and onto my patio table and then sat on a windowsill for some while. I think it probably struck the window and was slightly stunned. I wasn’t quite sure what to do as obviously leaving it meant it would be easy prey and not the humane thing to do. I contacted a woman who I’d been in touch with earlier in the year when I found a baby great tit, as she supplies transport for an animal rescue shelter. She suggested that I put it into a safe place for the night and so using an old mesh cat carrier, a suitable bed was provided with a dish of water and a dish of food and placed into the greenhouse. That was about 4 in the afternoon and being a fairly dull day, it was already beginning to turn to dusk. The pigeon by that stage had run into the corner of my patio by a wall and fence and looked as if it was settling down for the night. I was able to catch it and place it into its basket in a secure place.

The next morning it was perky and had eaten some food but appeared to have a slightly dropping wing. I contacted the woman again as she had offered to make a 26 mile trip to an animal refuge but wasn’t sure whether they would have the room or were taking animals due to COVID-19. The local vets use that refuge if they are ones that take in wild animals. We agreed that I would leave it on Tuesday to see what it did and took it out of the greenhouse in the morning and it went to join its fellow pigeons on the lawn while they were eating. It was still unable to fly but could run around quite happily and when the other pigeons flew off, it darted behind my patio chairs. I carried out the same routine on Tuesday evening when I had caught it, as it was running around on the lawn and made a very purposeful dash to the feral pigeons’ water supply. On Wednesday morning it seemed to be quite perky. It could certainly stretch both wings out and flap them and the next morning was able to get out of the cat basket without me having to tip it onto its side, so I’m hoping that it’s just required a bit of rest as there were no obvious wounds or lost feathers. Yesterday it was out in the garden mixing with the other feral pigeons and I saw it at one point preening itself under its wings and drying itself off after some rain. It was there in the garden about 2.30 pm but going out in the garden shortly before 4 o’clock, admittedly all the birds had gone by that point, it was nowhere to be seen. I’m hoping somehow that it managed to fly away somewhere safe for the night although it’s not back this morning. I did search around the garden and bushes, around containers and under the patio chairs and so forth, even going out with a torch at dusk to check again. I’ll keep a close eye out for it on the next few days.

To end on a more cheerful note, the woodpecker has been back and spent quite a bit of time on my feeders earlier in the week and a group of house sparrows are hopping about as I type outside the window in the holly bush.

Written by Margaret Emerson

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