Tag Archives: chicks

Yellow Flags, Ducklings and Swifts

Things are changing in Arnot Hill Park, the shrubbery has finally come to life, and the trees are in bloom. A pair of camera-shy Song Thrushes took cover in a horse chestnut as I approached and the trees were full of annoyingly elusive birds.

There’s nothing quite like yellow flags for cheering the heart, particularly when you’ve just been confined to the house. I like irises, and I particularly like the yellow ones so it was good to see them in bloom this morning.

As you may be able to tell from the photos, the water has changed colour to an exotic blue-green, while we’ve been away too.

There are ducklings about too – though they are a bit of a handful from the parenting point of view. The first ones I saw seemed to be attached to a pair of Red Crested Pochards but they made a rush for freedom, the adults swam off and the ducklings carried on by themselves. I think they may actually have been Mallards, as they seemed to stay with the adult Mallards.

Round the other side of the pond I found more Red Crested Pochards, this time with four ducklings. I’m amazed by how fast they are for such small things, particularly once you try to get the camera on them.

Incidentally, I’m back on the old camera as it’s easier to slip into my pocket and…well, to be honest, I can’t remember where I put the other one last time I used it. That’s how bad my memory has been during the last few weeks.

Finally, alerted by high-pitched squeaks I found a family of Moorhens with four chicks. Two of the chicks swam across one of the islands and took refuge inside the wire bastions they use for extending the islands. It makes a nice secure cage for chicks, though the other two kept to open water. Typical kids, you have a nice safe cage for them and they make for open water.

There are also two Coots sitting on eggs, so there are more chicks to come.

Unfortunately the Mandarin seems to have gone, so no more Odd Couple.

The film clip shows a pair of Mallards feasting on unappetising scum. No wonder they do so well if they are prepared to eat that.

And finally – Julia was out in the street this afternoon when she heard screaming calls, Looking up she saw eight Swifts. Looking down again after a few moments of Swift watching, she found a woman staring at her as if she was mad.

Who can tell?

Medecine, mistakes and a misapprehension

On the grounds of good taste I’m not going to go into detail about what happened at hospital this afternoon.

The facilities are good, the staff were cheerful and I was only away from home for 45 minutes (we can see the hospital from our house so travel doesn’t take long). Despite this I’m not very happy with the experience.

It’s hard to feel satisfaction when you go in for tests and come out without having the tests done.

The NHS did not cover itself in glory today.

However, my day was better than the man who was waiting with me. He  was under the misapprehension that they were going to put the camera down his throat.

 

Today’s photographs are just a few selected from thousands…

 

 

Incubator Diaries (Part 7)

This is the final report.

We hatched seven chicks from fifteen eggs and, although I’m very pleased with the seven chicks that hatched,  I’m not very happy about the overall result.

Of the eight that didn’t hatch, three (the two brown eggs and one bantam egg) were infertile. The brown egg layers are all old birds, which might be a factor, but they share a cockerel with the hen that laid the green eggs (all three of them hatched) and were collected clean and fresh so I had expected better.

The other five were all  bantam eggs and come from just one hen. The infertile egg may well have been caused by the fact we had to store the eggs for two weeks to get enough to hatch. I should have marked that laying dates on the eggs so I could check the correlation with hatchability.

The ones that didn’t hatch were a mixture of mid to late term fatalities and were rather black inside.

Looking at all the possible causes I think we can ignore temperature, humidity, power failure and poor turning as they are all taken care of automatically (though I will test the temperature next time I set it up to check the accuracy of the built-in thermometer). They are on a good ration so I’m going to ignore poor nutrition for now.

That leaves inbreeding, poor ventilation, diseased or infected eggs and lethal genes.

I know what a lethal gene is, but I haven’t a clue how it would show itself.

I can’t vouch for ventilation – I will probably ventilate more in the next attempt and see what happens.

However, as the weight loss from evaporation was what we expected I’m assuming that humidity  and ventilation were about right.

In truth, I can’t remember the parentage of the breeding stock, as they were passed on to us without much detail. The  bird that laid and hatched the clutches of 11 and 8 on top of the coop is a half sister to the bird that laid these eggs but the “half” may make a difference.

That leaves diseased/infected eggs, which was my fear from the beginning. Our nest boxes aren’t brilliant so there is often dirt on the shells, which can allow germs into the egg via pores in the shell. That, plus the length of time we had to keep the eggs, is probably the cause.

I’m going to do some calculations now and see what I can do to improve.

 

 

 

 

 

Men in Sheds, eating scones

Bob brought some of his store of plum jam and Julia provided the scones. Really we should have made scones but we haven’t been able to get into the kitchen much this week (due to the preparations for the run) so it was off to the shop.

Everyone seemed to enjoy them, anyway and we will be making more jam in a fortnight when he is going to bring us some plums.

Next Tuesday we are going to visit a permaculture project. It’s not that Men in Sheds are particularly interested in permaculture, but the Farmer is interested in using them as free labour to build a permaculture project in the allotments. Presumably that means another year when we can’t plan anything for the allotment.

With any luck it will be something like the one we planned two years ago but weren’t allowed to do.

Planning is not a strong point of this project…

Can you add your own version of a heart-rending sigh here please.

Anyway, I enjoyed the scones and some chicks have hatched so it’s been a good day. In a moment I’m hoping to take Julia away for lunch and have an afternoon off.

 

Incubator Diaries (part 5)

I didn’t post a picture last night after all, but this is one from this morning. It’s not the world’s greatest picture but I don’t want to keep the top off too long or the humidity drops and this might make it more difficult for other chicks to hatch.

It’s just fallen awkwardly as far as the timing goes as they may be hatching over the weekend while I’m not here. Looks like I might have to change my plans.

In theory you can leave a chick for 72 hours before it needs food and water (it still has reserved from the yolk sac until that time). I like to give them access to food and water as soon as practical, which in this case means as soon as they are dry and fluffy.

When I worked for a hatchery (have I mentioned that before?) we used to fly day old breeding stock all over the world and they always arrived OK thanks to the yolk sac. There are very few places in the world you can’t reach within 48 hours.We did inject chicks with saline solution a couple of times just to be sure, but it wasn’t a common thing.

At the moment we have two dry chicks and that is still drying out. There are two more eggs that are pipped and so far that is it.

In breed terms we have two from the blue eggs and one Polish bantam.

Everybody likes blue eggs. I upset someone when we were collecting hatching eggs by refusing to sell them a blue egg to eat (I still only had three to hatch) and someone has already asked to buy the chicks from the blue eggs. I might have to upset them, as I want them for the farm so we can continue producing blue eggs.

That’s all for now – some success but not as much as I’d hoped.

Stop Press: Just had another hatch out. Tried to get better photos but they keep moving and the black and yellow of the chicks merges with the  black and yellow of the incubator.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Phew! (Incubator Diaries part 4)

I’m in the centre, preparing to close up and pick Julia up from work. It’s been a quiet day and I  have done a reasonable amount of work, albeit of an unpaid nature.

The main part fo the day has been spent in researching historic bread recipes, and after five hours of reading the internet I’m left with the impression that although a few things may have changed (such as better yeast, electric ovens and more refined flour) bread is basically the same as it was 1,000 years ago. White bread, brown bread, rye bread. I suppose we don’t have to eat peas, beans and acorns but apart from that I’m not sure there’s much difference.

If I want to bake some historic breads I’m going to have to turn to spices rather than making plain loaves, or maybe run up the outdoor oven. It probably isn’t worth the effort as you can get that outdoor oven finish by baking it at high temperature and throwing some ash at it as a finishing touch.

Meanwhile, when I haven’t been thinking of bread I’ve been looking into the incubator.

Three of the eggs have now pipped and there’s a weedy chirping sound emerging from the machine.

This is a long way from the end result I’m hoping for, but it’s a start. At least I know some of them have developed properly.

I’m resisting the temptation to help nature along by peeling some shell off as I’m sure it’s better for chicks to do it themselves.

I’ll take a picture or two before I go and load them when I get home.

Fingers crossed!

Six more chicks!

The group was walking across the yard for a final look at the bantams tonight when Alasdair spotted a mouse. He’s not fond of mice and he’s very good at spotting small scurrying things.

However, it wasn’t a mouse, it was a chick. There were six of them altogether, four black, one yellow and one stripy.

They took some counting because Mother Hen wasn’t happy at the idea of us having a look. She was protective to the point of being aggressive and a number of the photos show a black blur attacking the photographer.

Amazing. I’m still waiting for the first signs of hatching but another hen, with no electronics, has just hatched six. That’s Hens 25 – Incubator Nil at the moment.