Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nest Material

Did you know that the North American Great Horned Owls are nesting right now? Those poor fluffy little owl chicks. Man - they're hardy birds! The Great Horned Owl has the best owl hoot in the entire world. There was one near my house in Iowa City that came by from time to time to hoot near my bedroom window.

I don't know if anything is actually nesting over here in the UK, but there seems to be a lot of interest in the nest boxes. The next step is catching them hauling nesting material.

As there are thousands of sheep all around the place, birds are not short of nesting material. There is always some wool to be had on the fences. Sometimes, I think if I was industrious enough, I could harvest wool off the fences while walking the dog. Sadly we will never know if I could knit a garment from wool gathered in this manner. I'm never going to get further than thinking about it. Even with all the free wool about, the birds still manage to pinch great chunks off my hanging basket liners. When I find a nest outside the three nest boxes, there is always lots of fibres from my hanging baskets and natural moss in it. We have loads of different varieties of moss around here, covering the forest floors.

George is up at the farm tonight because I have to be out of here at about 5 a.m. to collect The Man of the Place from the Glasgow Airport. I know that George would probably be just fine on his own here at the house, but I feel much better knowing that somebody has taken charge of him. He's going to help them to scan sheep tomorrow morning.

Scanning sheep is a recent (within the past 10 years or so) practice. Somebody with a mobile veterinary scanning unit comes along and gives all the ewes that are expecting an ultrasound examination. Then they can mark the ewes according to what they are carrying. As most ewes carry two lambs, they aren't marked at all. Ewes carrying a single lamb will be marked with a blue dot. Ewes carrying three lambs will be marked with a red dot. The ones that aren't pregnant will be sent to a separate field.

George gets to help Gordon move the sheep from one pen to another as they organise them to file past the sheep scanning person. The scanner can scan very quickly, shouting out the number of lambs inside the ewe so that the person marking the ewe will know which colour to use.


bigbikerbob said...

Hi Peggy,Sorry I missed your anniversary but I only recently found your blog.Its nice to meet others who enjoy gardening and bird watching,I'm afraid i'm a little old for diving.As for why people visit,Its about basics, good content good photo's plus a little humour .So keep up the good work.

Patsy said...

Hi Peggy, This is a really great Post, I didn't know about the scanning thing for sheep. It is real interesting, tell us more!

Jay said...

That's really interesting about the scanning of the sheep. See I learned something today without even trying.

claude said...

Wow! I never thought of birds gathering sheep wool from the fences.
I didn't know about scanning ewes either! Amazing. And I saw that some of them were marked but never figured out why.
As for picking up wool and knitting! Well it would be so much work BEFORE you got to knitting... I'm not sure you'd ever want to do that.

Thanks so much for the wonderful letter I found in my mailbox this morning. It sure made my day.

Tink said...

>> The scanner can scan very quickly, shouting out the number of lambs inside the ewe so that the person marking the ewe will know which colour to use.<<

Try saying that 10 times fast! :)

Ex-Shammickite said...

Each spring I save the fluff from the dryer and put it in the back yard for the birds. If I've been drying blue towels, they get blue fluff. If the towels are yallow, yellow fluff. They are the only birds in the neighbourhood with designer nests.

The Bird Woman said...

Peggy - whereabouts on its body do they mark the sheep after scanning?

The big blob of paint on the bum is from the ram, right? He leaves that mark once he's mated with the female. I believe it's called tupping.

This is something I want to look out for - something to do while driving 'round the Borders!


Kell said...

Baby owls! That's amazing. And I hadn't heard of the scanning either. That's getting pretty high tech.

And I'm with Claude on the wool. It would take a lot of time to get it ready for knitting you'd probably lose the urge. But I'm still planning on learning how to spin some day.

Peggy said...

Bird Woman - Each farmer marks his own sheep differently.

The rams (or tups) do wear a marker on a harness in the autumn and the ewes that have been "serviced" will be stained.

Kell - I never get past the thinking about it phase. I don't even own a spinning wheel or know how to spin.