A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hooptedoodle #302 - Nice Weather for Pigeons

Two consecutive wildlife Hooptedoodles is usually a sure sign that not much is going on in Hobbyland.

That's not entirely true, in fact - yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours re-sorting the lead piles into things that need to get done (in properly labelled boxes) and things that maybe need to be put at the back of the cupboard now (or got rid of, in some cases). I also did a little more work on some converted Bavarians which (according to the Grand Plan) are going away to be cloned, to provide some necessary cavalry command presence for the forthcoming contingent of Bavarois.

Most of my afternoon yesterday was spent out in the sunshine, mowing the lawns - I even got to run the mower over the grass verge, outside in the lane, which was a bit of a mess after our crocuses had died back. There was a bit of a deadline - the forecast for today (accurately, as it turns out) was very wet. The gardener is due to come on Tuesday, but he is likely to be a bit inhibited by the fact that Tuesday morning is also the date for the guys to come and flush out our septic tank. Just routine, you understand, and the least said about that the better, but I suspect that not much mowing will be possible.

Anyway, comes the morning, and here is the rain - a lot of it. Looking at the bird bath, I estimate we had about ¾ of an inch overnight. Around breakfast time, the Contesse took a picture of a line of wood pigeons enjoying a spa on the kitchen roof.

Local wood pigeons (columba palumbus) enjoying the rain - a chance to wash out
the dust and the biddies.
They're all right, pigeons. We're not really very interested in them, since they lack the glamour of some of the more spectacular garden birds, and they do cause a bit of damage to the fruit trees, but there are so many of them that they are pretty much a dominant presence here. They are big, lumbering fellows, and they seem to fall naturally into the role of clowns. They have an endearingly stupid routine when eating chunks of stale bread - since they cannot bite or chew, a pigeon will pick up a large piece, and toss it up in the air. This successfully detaches a mouthful, but the remainder of the piece of bread will normally land behind the thrower. The pigeon will take a quick glance to either side, shrug its shoulders in a resigned sort of way (and if you've never seen a fat bird without shoulders shrugging, keep your eyes open for this) and plod off in search of another piece.

Their love-making is also noted for its noise and clumsiness - the aluminium roof on the garage is a deafening place to cohabit, and they regularly fall out of trees while coupled. And yet they are obviously very successful - if you close your eyes, the endless mumbling of pigeons is the main sound here. It's soothing, but sometimes I wish they would learn a new tune. [I am interested to note that some recordings of birdsong I made here in 2001 clearly demonstrate that the proportion of pigeon in the vocal line up was much less in those days. Demographics, man.]

Very recently, we've seen a few odd feral pigeons here, of the type you get in towns - very rarely see them. They didn't cause any fuss, but they obviously didn't like it much - went back home again pretty quickly. They obviously couldn't handle our sunflower hearts and the fresh peanuts, and went back to eating cigarette ends and chewing gum, and dodging the trams.


  1. Pigeons of various types (mainly wood) certainly seem to be on the increase. My problem with sorting figures tends to be a cry of 'shiny' at which time I'm off on another project while the previous current one gets sidelined!

  2. Possibly the one creature more extravagantly stupid than the pheasant, but you're right, their antics are entertaining. They know there is food in the hanging bird feeders in our garden and they spend ages fruitlessly (literally) trying to work out how to get it. Perching spots are just out of reach, so they try to stretch out as far as they can until ... they fall off.