Fowl play: Chelmondiston woman wakes up to find six turkeys in her garden
They say don’t count your chickens, but one Chelmondiston woman has found herself outnumbered by some rather handsome feathered friends this week.
Sally Chicken was surprised to wake up to find six turkeys roaming her garden on Monday morning.
It turns out the big birds, one male and five females, have been travelling all around the peninsula – with Facebook users reporting sightings in Shotley, at Ipswich High School in Woolverstone, and on Ling’s Lane and Hollow Lane in Chelmondiston.
However they can be traced back to Mayhew family’s Home Farm in Woolverstone.
Mrs Chicken said it was quite a surprise to find the birds pecking about in her garden.
“My husband got up first and he went to put the kettle on, when he looked out and thought: ‘that’s funny – that looks like a peacock’.
“So I got up and went out, and by that time they’d all come from behind the well, the whole crowd of them. And then [I saw] the male and thought there’s no two ways about it – that’s definitely a turkey.
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“So we went out, gave them some water, because I thought they looked a bit thirsty, and they all dived on the bowl and guzzled it down. And because we keep hens I’ve got some hen feed, so I got a little bowl of that and put it down.
“I hadn’t actually noticed on Facebook that people had been putting comments over the last week or so, saying they’d seen them – so I didn’t have any idea where they’d come from.”
Despite recognising the birds right away, Mrs Chicken had never actually seen a turkey is real life.
“I’ve seen them in pictures and I’ve seen them on television but I’d never actually met one,” she added.
“They look like they forage quite successfully.”
She also said that it was worth keeping an eye on ‘wild’ birds such as these, as bird flu is still a real threat in the UK.
Mrs Chicken said: “DEFRA issues noticed about bird flu and sometimes it’s very, very severe and you have to keep them indoors. At the moment they’re on the lowest level, but you still have to have biosecurity.
“My first thought was to keep them apart. You have to either change your shoes, or have different shoes to go into the hen area, so that you don’t transmit any illnesses.
“They look incredibly healthy, but nevertheless we’ve still got to keep them separate. We’ve not been able to let the hens out since yesterday – so they’re not very happy.”
Despite being good company, the turkeys have also provided some unwelcome wake up calls.
“[They were up at] 5am this morning,” Mrs Chicken added.
“It was quite a raucous gobbling noise, and it just didn’t stop – it went on and on and on. So we got up, went out, put some more water down and then they stopped.”
The family plan to open the gate to encourage the turkeys to move along, putting water down closer to the nearby field.
Mrs Chicken said: “I did ring the owner and she said: ‘We know they’re out there, they’re healthy and happy and they’re very difficult to catch.’ So I haven’t even tried to catch them.
“I’m just so thrilled – [the male turkey] is so beautiful. And the messages on Facebook have been hilarious.”
Philip Mayhew, who runs The Home Farm with his wife, said the pair’s gamekeeper hatched the birds, which are American Bush Turkeys, in their woodland. Now they live freely among Ipswich’s greenery.
“They went out with the pheasants in October,” he said.
“They live in the woods. They are probably getting on for a year now. It will be interesting to see if they breed.”
Mr Mayhew said it was in the birds’ nature to roam, but they do tend to stay locally.
He added: “I am sure they will clear off again soon.”
The turkeys are mainly brown and black in colour, while in many pictures the male, also known as a tom, a stag or a gobbler, boasts a gorgeous blue head.
This is because many birds with bare skin on their heads and necks communicate by changing colour.
The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head vary in colour depending on its level of excitement and stress.
When excited, a gobbler’s head turns blue – while it switches to a red hue when the bird is up for a fight.