Wonky pulls off the perfect poses for a prestigious press photographer, reveals 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
The Daily Telegraph’s snapper takes pictures of Priscilla and Hadron in connection with Martin’s book Hen & the Art of Chicken Maintenance