At this time of year all the birds are busy nesting. The males are singing their hearts out proclaiming their territories and everyone is busy building nests and incubating eggs. Yesterday some geese took off heading towards the lake, and one of them shed a tiny white fluffy feather. As the feather drifted down, a swallow zoomed in to collect it. Only on the third attempt did it manage to get it in its mouth in the right position. (Don’t forget you still have to be able to see where you are going with a feather as big as your head!). Off it went to line its nest with it. They are collecting mud from the sides of the lake and building up their nests layer by layer. Some of them are using the wire mesh cups we put up from them, and others still use the log shed and the stables.
But it doesn’t always go smoothly. Once a female ovulates her egg and it enters the infundibulum, the process is like a conveyor belt. The fertilised ovum on the yolk is covered with membranes, the egg plumps up with albumen until it is egg shaped, and then the calcareous shell is laid down. Then she has to lay the egg. Sometimes a predator has destroyed her carefully made nest, or maybe she is just ‘taken short’. So occasionally you come across an egg just lying on the ground, fresh and intact, abandoned.
Last week I was down on one of the ponds and in the shallows was a white Canada goose egg. The geese had been hanging out there but eventually had opted to nest on an island on a pond across the field. This egg was sunk on the bottom of the pond, and that meant it was fresh and unincubated. A rotten egg floats, and so does a partially developed one. So I fished it out and held it up to the light and it looked clear. Sure enough, when I got home and broke it into the frying pan it was clean and undeveloped, so I had very tasty and creamy scrambled egg for my lunch.
The falcons on the farm are very busy too at the moment. Over 200 have hatched so far, with more to go. Some of them have already gone to their new owners and we are hand-rearing a few for training later.