Flood And The Pigeon

This is the wettest winter I have known at the Priory.  DSM_8892

It has rained for weeks and water pours into the grounds.


The ducks at least are happy – I’ve never seen so many.  One day I counted twenty-two: normally there are five or six.


The water level is very high.  The island on the west pond has shrunk to a skull-cap.


The island on the east pond is underwater and the rotten old duck-box has flooded.  I was going to fix it but what’s the point?  Half submerged, it is of no use to a roosting mallard.


Strong  winds and high water have proved a boon in one respect.


They have mostly swept away the duckweed which has plagued the east pond for three or four years.


The winds and running water have funneled the ‘weed through the ditch towards


the point where flood waters exit the grounds.  The duckweed swirls and settles against the beech hedging.


In places it drifts into a thick


spongy carpet.


I shall need to remove it – it is even deeper and heavier against the rabbit netting.  But what to do with it?  I know from experience that duckweed doesn’t compost.


The grounds are sodden and gardening has been impossible.  Just walking across the lawn turns grass to mud.


I spend many rainy days in an old Nissan hut chopping firewood.  Sometimes, when I stop to stretch my back or turn up the radio, I look out at rainbows.

I often check that the river is running clear and not about to flood.  One day, I was on the old brick bridge and saw a largish bird float awkwardly down the swift current towards me.  It bumped off the river banks and branches, spinning as it approached.  I thought that it was a duck but as it twirled closer, I realised that it was an unhappy wood-pigeon –  somehow dunked in the water.  I watched it sweep beneath me, then ran across to see it emerge on the other side.


She came to rest amongst some entangled woodland flotsam and it was clear she didn’t have the strength to get out.  I couldn’t leave her and so, in a feat of quite dizzying heroism, I plunged down the bank and into the river (uttering a voiceless scream as icy water poured through my leaky waders), grabbed her and carried the poor thing off to safety.


I took her up to the heated greenhouse and nestled her on an old coat.  I thought that after a while, I would open the greenhouse door and the pigeon would fly out with a grateful Disney-coo and wink.  But sadly I was wrong and within a couple of  hours she was lifeless: her head tucked beneath a wing – my pigeon-saving heroics all for naught.

It seems that even when I am unable to garden,


the Priory has something new or interesting to show me.


Something to catch my eye


Young fallow bucks crossing Margaret’s field

and have me running for my camera.  Whether it is raining or not, it is a wonder that I ever find time to do gardening.

24 thoughts on “Flood And The Pigeon

  1. My first visit to your blog—what beautiful gardens! And how green. I’m in Northern California
    where we are still waiting for rain, though it’s not expected…


  2. Getting rather tedious isn’t it! Even frequent rainbows don’t quite make up for it, though your photos are lovely. Mind you, all that rain seems to have led to something I never thought possible, pretty duckweed… Love all those swirls… Don’t envy you trying to pick it all up though… Am impressed at your pigeon heroics and sorry they were for naught, though maybe its last moment were better than they would have been without your intervention? Assuing birds notice such things. Hey ho. Look on the bright side, lots of ducks, and lots of very happy willows, not to mention mountains of firewood…


    • Hi Janet, yes well I thought that too – the pigeon’s last hour was hopefully more comfortable than a watery grave. We have someone working at the Priory at the moment who is a very keen shooter (there must be a better term than that. Hunter?). He looked at my pigeon saving antics quite askance! I’m such a soft lad gardener. Dave


  3. Sorry to hear about the pigeon but at least you tried. It has felt like quite a demoralising winter with all the rain. It has been bad here too, the worst we have seen it in 8 years of living over here and that is saying something. I didn’t think it was possible to rain more than it did in 2012. I don’t know about you but I find it hard to imagine the spring and summer when the ground is so sodden. I’m trying to plan my plot for the coming year but it is difficult to muster the enthusiasm. Mmmm what to do with all of that duck weed. Would it break down over time if you piled it up somewhere on its own a bit like leaf mould? Some fantastic images by the way I love the green swirls of the duck weed.


    • Hello Lou, yes I think the duckweed would break down in time (see my comment to Christina below) and that is what I’ll do – pile it in a quiet corner and leave for a few years. After weeks of rain, the ground really dried out this week so I was able to get on with all sorts and my gardening enthusiasm soared. I hope yours does too! If your area has had the worst rainfall in 8 years – well, that must be some kind of wet. You must be quite bedraggled. Dave


  4. Very sad about the pigeon. Let’s hope that they don’t dare to tell us in Summer that there is a water shortage! I can’t walk on my grass without wrecking it right now.


    • Hello Dan, yes well I’m sure a hosepipe ban will be announced imminently. It was sad for the pigeon – shock and length of time in the water I suppose. I put her outside so it was good for the fox at least! Dave


  5. A winter not to be forgotten for the heavy rain and the changes it has brought in the garden. At least there does not seem much permanent damage and everything will have a good soak before spring. Getting rid of the duck weed is a great plus, I’m just surprised it is not great for composting – pity. The colours in the garden look beautiful for January and I love the photograph of the duck in flight. We are getting a very heavy rainfall too but our sandy soil on limestone is just absorbing it.


    • Hello Amelia, the other garden I tend is on chalk and yes! that is quite dry in comparison – I was even able to mow last week. As I’ve explained to Christina below, duckweed must compost down eventually – just not in tandem with other garden waste. Dave


  6. I was surprised you said the duck weed didn’t compost, I would have thought it would be ideal, you learn something new every day……… As usual your images are superb. We’ve had quite a bit of rain but nothing like you are experiencing.


    • Hi Christina, about four years ago I barrowed between 20 and 30 loads of duckweed to the compost bins and it just sat there, complete, for months on end. Even now I find easily identifiable clumps of it on the beds. I daresay it does compost down eventually but over a much longer period than usual garden waste, ie years rather than months. Dave


      • That’s good to know. I wasn’t questioning the truth of what you said just surprise. Gardening people on TV are always saying to put pond weed in the compost, they don’t always speak from experience.


  7. I understand that’s a lot of rain, but to have things so green! wow! Doesn’t look much like winter to me.
    It’s amazing how the ebb and flow of life is always swirling around you even when you think it’s just another day in the garden.


  8. Such a shame about the pigeon, at least you did what you could. Will your beech hedge survive, do you think, being submerged in water, I do hope so. I do hope the rain stops soon, we too are sodden and just can’t do any gardening.


    • Hi Pauline, good question re the beech. By rights I don’t think it should survive at all – long stretches of it have sat in water over more prolonged periods than usual – even for the Priory. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough whether it’ll survive or not – I have been worried about it though. Dave


  9. A very poetic and poignant post David. Sorry to hear about the pigeon but good to see that you continued to see beauty in what surrounds you. In periods of constant rain sometimes the best thing you can do is just to wait and just what do can be feasibly done. Fab post!


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