The Eagle has landed

Yesterday evening as I was preparing the chickens for bed, noticed a splash of snow on the horse field. But the snow melted days ago!  A closer look and realised it was chicken feathers. And the way they were spread out left little doubt it was a bird of prey rather than a fox. So annoying although it's "nature". Today Angie has checked the girls and reckons it was probably one of our bantam chickens rather than one of our Sussex girls.

Worrying times for feathered animals. Bird flu H5N8 has arrived in northern Germany and the first cases not far from here on the Austrian & Swiss shores of Lake Constance have now spread to parts of Bavaria, including a commercial chicken unit where the chickens do not have any outdoor access. The outbreak is said to come from migrating wild birds from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia on their way west and south. The flu virus had been recorded there in the summer. Looks like it will be just a matter of days before the order comes to lock up all poultry - meaning they must not have any access to wild birds nor to rain! Rain because the infected birds may do their business in flight and this could be washed in to rainwater barrels ..... We are prepared having been through this in 2006 but not for the geese. The chickens have enough covered and netted outdoor area, better than probably the majority of chickens cooped up in windowless sheds but we can't put the geese in with them and it's difficult to imagine how to give the geese an acceptable environment. I doubt it,  but hope the authorities may allow private hobby herds to be excluded from any restrictions. I do question how effective such a ban is. I guess there are times you have to listen to "the experts".

When I had sent Angie a photo yesterday of the feathers, she replied she wouldn't be going to her fitness class in the evening and thus be home "early". She just said she didn't feel up to it and went to bed.

This morning at 7:00 I crawled out of bed, eyes still closed and slouched to the coffee machine before getting Eddie out of his cage and in to his litter tray. Something wasn't right. I then realised I had a full cup of coffee - Angie always changes the setting when she gets her cup at 5:00am and I always forget to reset it, meaning my first cup is much too strong for me. Went to the window overlooking the garage and saw her car still there. Turned out she was very under the weather. GP has ordered her to stay home for a while. No flu virus, I hope.

In the afternoon, emptied and refilled the geese pond just in case they are to be locked away. Let them have a last good clean swim. By the time I did the evening dog walk, realised I hadn't got a photo but on the way home noticed the candlelit door of the pub/restaurant, "zum Adler" The Eagle, in Frechenrieden. As I jumped out of the car with camera to shoot the scene, Peter the cook came out for a breath of fresh air, commonly called a cigarette break). Bavaria held a referendum a few years ago on tightening the laws on smoking in pubs and restaurants, and to the surprise of most, the no smoking lobby had a majority and Bavaria then had the strictest laws in all Germany. Turn out was only 37%, largely because nobody expected the complete ban to be supported. Many still claim it accelerated the death of the village and small town & city pubs. I am sure it has and many publicans are only able to hang on through the outdoor beer gardens in good weather, where smoking is allowed.

I quickly explained to Peter why I was standing in the dark with camera at hand. Didn't bother him and he was quite happy to stay and appear on screens around the world. I have never been inside, in fact I didn't know there was a restaurant there. It is I think owned by the same family who run an attached off-licence and drink home delivery business. I don't think there is a comparable business in the UK to a German "Getränkemarkt" Drink Market. See them all over the place - most people buy beer, mineral water and juices in cases and  many/most villages have one.

Tonight on the news, a report about an Austrian airlines new twice a day international scheduled jet flight from St Gallen on the Swiss shore of Lake Constance to Friedrichshafen on the German side. Now it holds the world record for the shortest international scheduled route - 8 minutes, 20km and I believe costs about 40 Euros. For those who saw my Blip this summer about St Gallen will know the flight makes economic sense even if it is an environmental catastrophe, as bad as the bird flu virus on the lake. 

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