Margot’s Good Life: ‘I rescued a high-ranking racing pigeon’

Margot shares her countryside antics credit Lucy Atkinson

Margot shares her countryside antics credit Lucy Atkinson - Credit: Lucy Atkinson

Our columnist has had quite the month tracing down the owner of an injured bird

It all started with a lost pigeon, dear Reader. Don’t worry I haven’t decided on pigeons for my next farmhouse trick. Well, not yet at any rate. The pigeon in question wasn’t mine. It was found causing rather a lot of consternation from our resident gander as it tried to take up residence in the goose house. Leaving Poppy and Primrose to coax it out, I expected it would eventually fly off. When it didn’t, the girls decided that it had what is commonly known in our house as ‘manky pigeon disease’. I suspect you haven’t come across this technical veterinary term before dear Reader, but it tends to afflict congregating wood pigeons as autumn draws in at the farmhouse. They sit motionless in puddles on the drive, looking like they are on death’s door. My theory? They are prone to moping - the drama queens of the bird world. Either that or they are avoiding the gamekeeper’s shotgun very sensibly. I digress.

As you know I’m hardly a stranger when it comes to taking on livestock waifs and strays but when the girls suggested we give the pigeon a bed for the night, I was a little reluctant. Covered in blood and carrying a wing at an altogether unnatural angle, I wasn’t convinced she would survive. I say she. I’m no expert but she had to be female as she was by far the prettiest little pigeon, I’d ever clapped eyes on. That and she had rather a lot of jewellery adorning her feet.

The next thing I knew I was texting a random number embossed on a ring with what Jerry thought was a rather Mafiaesque hostage shot with the caption, ‘I have your pigeon.’ Her owner turned out to be Colin the builder from Croydon. The messages going back and forth explained that ‘Mrs Pigeon’ had been released from Salisbury Cathedral in a bid to race others home. Judging by her injuries, Colin suspected that she’d been attacked by a falcon in flight. Apparently to those in the know, it was textbook falcon. Of course, there may well be dozens of falcons in and around our tiny corner of Hampshire but swooping in like a veritable avian crime solving Sherlock Holmes, I remained convinced that the dastardly culprit of Mrs Pigeon’s near fatal injuries was none other than one of the peregrine falcons nesting at Winchester Cathedral. Even Jerry had to concede that this could be entirely plausible.

Seeing as Mrs Pigeon was in no fit state to fly, we agreed to put her up for a while to allow a little R&R. Cue the girls setting up a pigeon spa experience, as well as kitting out Jessica Rabbit’s pet carrier as a five-star suite. Meanwhile, I updated Colin with Mrs Pigeon’s progress every day until he decided it would be best to drive down to collect her. Apparently, she was one of his best racing pigeons. Although she will probably never fly long distances again, she’ll make a first-class mum, passing on her skills to the next generation.

With Mrs Pigeon returning to her roost, the time has come for my own little bird to fly off to new adventures this month too. Whilst Primrose may not be so small these days with her first week at secondary school beckoning, it feels as though this is just the beginning of her learning to fledge. As Jerry told her over breakfast one morning, she’ll be needing to get a job next! Everyone says it but they really do grow up fast, dear Reader, don’t they?

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