Chicken Crazy

Wonky pulls off the per­fect poses for a pres­ti­gious press pho­tog­ra­pher, re­veals Martin Gurdon

Your Chickens - - Contents - By Martin Gurdon

THANKS TO a pho­tog­ra­pher from The Daily Tele­graph, Priscilla and Hadron had their first taste of free­dom for nearly two months. Af­ter a fox tore open the lid of the run where we kept Pol­ish Crested Bantams Sarkozy and Carla and did for them both, ev­ery­one else has been con­fined to bar­racks and they have not been pleased.

This has meant prison for our In­dian Run­ner ducks and heavy chick­ens Hadron and Priscilla and, al­though they haven’t en­joyed it, they do seem to have grown used to look­ing at the gar­den rather than plod­ding around in it.

Sarkozy’s brother Wonky and his trio of ban­tam girl­friends al­ways lived in a run and so haven’t felt hard done by, but the other four look a bit down.

The ducks and big hens haven’t laid an egg in weeks, al­though, to be fair, Hadron has re­cently moulted, some­thing Priscilla copied a few days ago, dump­ing vast quan­ti­ties of pale feath­ers. She is now a com­bi­na­tion of down, fresh feather growth and spines con­tain­ing new feath­ers. The ones for her tail haven’t done a lot of grow­ing, which has given her a rather sawn off look.

The Daily Tele­graph snap­per was tak­ing ev­ery­one’s pic­ture be­cause I had writ­ten some­thing about the flock con­nected to my book Hen & the Art of Chicken Main­te­nance (here en­deth the plug) and he wanted to cap­ture some birds in the gar­den. We couldn’t re­lease Wonky and co, so out came Hadron and Priscilla, who wasn’t look­ing her best. Oh well.

Since a lot of the ar­ti­cle cen­tres around Wonky and his rather dra­matic start in life, I was asked to hold the lit­tle bird for some more pic­tures. Ear­lier in the year he had looked glossy and rather stylish, but as he’s also about to moult, that meant that he was look­ing some­what tatty.

He turned out to be a good model, how­ever, putting up with be­ing held for a long time and be­ing ma­noeu­vred in var­i­ous di­rec­tions. He even coped with a very large re­mote cam­era flash light mounted on a tri­pod and seemed un­fazed by its con­stant bursts of very bright light. He re­mained calm and easy go­ing, some­thing you would not have said of him dur­ing the sum­mer when his hor­mones had re­ally sprung into life.

I think he could do with putting on a lit­tle more flesh as there is less of him than I would like, but his ap­petite is good and he seems pretty ac­tive.

When we of­fered Hadron and Priscilla the great outdoors they had be­come so in­sti­tu­tion­alised that it took them about a minute be­fore they would brave the lawn. There they shunned the pho­tog­ra­pher and hid un­der a bush. Get­ting them out re­quired shoo­ing and fo­liage prod­ding.

The pho­tog­ra­pher de­cided to have a go at cap­tur­ing Wonky and co in their run. The door was opened, a long lens poked in and af­ter some ini­tial ag­i­ta­tion this was com­pletely ig­nored. Mean­while, I had rounded up and im­pris­oned Priscilla and Hadron, who were not pleased at be­ing grounded again. They will have to wait sev­eral weeks to taste free­dom once more — af­ter the back fence is fi­nally re­placed.

The pho­tog­ra­pher de­cides to have a go at cap­tur­ing Wonky and co in their run

Martin Gurdon

The Daily Tele­graph’s snap­per takes pic­tures of Priscilla and Hadron in con­nec­tion with Martin’s book Hen & the Art of Chicken Main­te­nance

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