FOR several years the hens have had no male company. John suddenly flipped one day when a dawn chorus of crowing cockerels woke him a little too early from his slumbers. But as I wrote several weeks ago, Bob, a fugitive from a school’s gang of bullying chickens, has arrived to right the lack of masculine machismo in our flock.

Except for the first few weeks he didn’t. Like Greta Garbo, he wanted to be left alone. Scuttling off into the undergrowth. Hiding in the hut. But then, the hormones clearly clicked in. Now any passing hen is fair game. He can’t wait to be out of the run and into the field where most of our hens spend their day scratting about looking for worms in the earth. For Bob, any hen with her head down in the grass, tail feathers raised provocatively in the air, is fair game. His technique does lack a certain subtlety. No courtship is involved. It’s wham, bam , thank you ma’am.

The hens have a phlegmatic approach to this rough and ready approach and wooing technique. After suffering the indignity of being squashed flat into the grass, they shake their ruffled feathers back into place when he’s fallen off, and resume their search for more titbits in the grass. Passion spent, Bob still hasn’t adopted a more soigné approach to his latest conquest. Nor has his cockerel crow matured significantly. It still resembles a strangled croak rather than a rip roaring cock a doodle do. It’s as though he suddenly loses confidence in himself and gives up just as the doodle gets dooing.

Evidence of the fertility and fecundity of the pigeons and ducks is all around us. The hedge surrounding our garden is stacked full of pigeon nests. Look closely into the garden borders and hidden among and beneath foliage and flowers, mallard ducks sit tight on nests. I’ve counted up to a dozen eggs in each clutch so, if they all hatch, we will soon be over run with ducklings.

Sadly though, this excess of motherhood has attracted predators. Feathers frequently litter the lawns at the back and the front of the house. And the paddock too. We know there are peregrines nesting in a nearby pylon and sparrow hawks in a neighbouring copse. Crows nest in our chimneys. Probably to them all these baby birds represent an excellent take away.

What we can’t blame are the village felines as Millie our terrier keeps all of them well away from the boundaries. And our neighbour’s elderly cat is blind and really not even up to pouncing on deserted ducklings while mum is off foraging, or even pigeon squabs that have tumbled out of their nest. Nature is clearly attempting to restore a delicate balance. While Bob perfects his procreation technique. Predators skilfully deplete the nestlings.