Sunday 19 May 2013

JD Bob's ponds

We know it rains a bit round here but we were still surprised at how quickly the 1010 litre rainwater tank has filled up. You can see here that we are now above the top metal frame bar so we are well up in the 900 litres area. Resurrecting some skool maths I have calculated that given that the 'catchment' is the car port roof at approx 5 m by 6 m, 1.3 inches (in old money) of rain has fallen in the last ten days, since we installed the tank. For those not versed in such matters, the rain in an average year here is about 40 inches, so this would be about a right for the 10 days. Bodes well for us being able to keep the pond topped up when we need to, doesn't it?

The newest Rabbit, Goldie, continues to thrive and is scarfing the good Roscommon grass to the manor born. This is a nice picture to give you some idea of the size of her - we are looking through 2 inch chicken wire here. Not a small animal. We are hoping for plenty of 'kittens' from her in mid June and in particular we hope there is a nice buck for keeping to mate with Ginny and Padfoot in the future. Goldie, if I have not already said so, is a Flemish Giant cross Californian White. These varieties do not stick to their colours too well, so we are told the babies can be pretty much any rabbit colour. There can be up to 15 kittens but the usual rules apply - you are wise not to even LOOK into the nest till they might be 2 weeks old, or the doe may kill and eat the babies under stress. They are born pink, hairless, blind and with their ears sealed up. By 2 weeks they are furry and cute, miniature bunnies. We are hoping for a successful 'kindling' both for her and for Ginny and Padfoot. It will be Ginny's first time.

We have been down to John Deere Bob's bank field for a look at the pond(s) we plan to do the newt surveys on. I knew where the first pond was. We took the dogs down there for a walk and they were pulling around so much, eager to race around the grass around the bigger Lough Feigh, that we risked letting them off the leads so that we could gaze at the first pond in peace. We saw small fish. We did not see any newts but that's OK; in really clear water newts are sometimes nocturnal, so you need to come back at dusk with torches. However, the dogs ran off into some bushes and we got a bit concerned after a while and Liz went a-hunting and discovered to our delight a second and much more promising pond.

This pond is more full of vegetation including many species we might have to blag bits of to start our own pond - marsh marigolds, floating water plantain, amphibious bistort and so on. It has much less open water and we could see no signs of fish. Fish are predators on newts and newt tadpoles so that, in general, you do not get newts if you have fish. (Note to you pond makers out there - if you want to create a wildlife pond, avoid the temptation to go buy goldfish!). We did not see any newts in this one either but we resolved to return without dogs and with plastic sacks to sit on and maybe even a picnic. It really was an idyllic, beautiful, peaceful place. We are going to enjoy newt surveying there.

 We are homing in now on the first possible gosling hatch date. This is the 22nd and it is a tense, nervous time. The baby chicks (who hatched the day the geese went broody) are coming up to 4 weeks old too, of course, and getting well feathered and starting to look too big for the run. Broody Betty is also looking quite keen to get out and show them around. We are still a bit nervous that they are very small and might fall prey to the cats or a magpie, but Gander, bored by his women having been sitting now for 3 and a half weeks is currently hanging around near them and shouts at any passing crows or 'maggies'. He also scares off the cats. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic changes when (Please, God) we get some goslings for him to look after and he gets his ladies back. Our plan (frantically NOT counting chickens here) would be to keep all the geese then in the orchard field during the daytime so that we get that grass a bit grazed and to shepherd them back and forth to the secure house at night. Of course we are aware that this might all go wrong and we get failed clutches and no babies. These are very young and inexperienced mothers and although we've seen them do what we think is a successful incubation, we are by no means out of the woods. Wish us luck and hopefully by next weekend we will be singing (and honking) a happy song.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

Goldie will also be a first time mum if she kindles.