Saturday, 27 June 2009

Couchie, couchie

With Michael away banding at Powder Mill, Neville treading in his master’s footsteps at Woolston, and yours truly hors de combat with ‘Wellington Foot’, the weekends ringing was set to be a trip with David and Jake to Nether Alderley for the porch Swallows only. We walked 50 yds down the lane towards Nether Alderley, climbed the gate, walked at right angles to the hedge across the field, vaulted the fence (are you getting the gist of this Michael?), and walked the 50 yds back, past the out houses to the ‘des res’.
There were plenty of ladders about so David collected and ringed the 5 just out of pin pulli. Jake was a bit frustrated by the fact that one of the adults looked to be ringed and we were having to leave a possible control to the mercy of Michael. All was OK, but there was this 09 reg Ferrari parked there, (for the benefit of the non-motoring among us it looked like quarter of a mils worth of toy, with divine body work and it was black). Well.... (you are now ahead of me and writing your own scripts!) the ladder was safely removed, but Swallows don’t mind dropping ‘messages from the sky’ (for George Formby fans everywhere, not just on ‘I tiddley I tie island’), on brand new Ferraris (and front porch doorsteps). David thinks that the little migrants might be persuaded to nest in the servants quarters next year.
You might be forgiven for thinking that David, despite having worked his way through three 5am get ups and gruelling days at the Cheshire and Arley Shows with two more at Arley to come, would have been pleased to be on the home straight towards his ‘nest box restricted C permit, but not a bit of it: While feeding Boris (the badger) and his mates, he had heard the alarm call of a Little Owl coming from round the edge of Wigwam Wood and had set off to investigate. Well apparently this stag horn oak had a hole up the middle, white splashes round the base, several attendant flies and Little Owls within. Friday night I arrived at the nursery. Jake was standing there with the news, and suggestion that we might have a peep and take the E-rings just in case. In spite of pleas of infirmity, I was dragged across a field fluttering with Meadow Browns, towards the oak where basking in the sun were, not one, not two, but three nearly fully grown LITOWs just under the nest hole. What were we going to do? I tried a flanking movement as Jake approached slowly full on. We got quite close before we were rumbled and the chick nearest the hole headed for safety. However the hole was a bit tight even for a little Little Owl, so there was time to yell ‘grab him Jake’ and the third in the queue was duly ringed, Jake’s 64th tick. Of course David who arrived back from Arley 15 mins later was not impressed to hear Jake’s news. Now that was a bit uncharitable. In the excitement of the chase, Jake had lost his presence of mind and grabbed the third of the critters instead of the second, so at least David has further chances, and the other nest.
Couchie couchie Janis.

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