Monday 25 April 2011: Ducklings on the Rocks...
Well, yesterday I updated the duckling numbers from 9 to 4... And then there were two. And it must have happened between me arriving at the park and a mere 30 minutes later, but it appears the gulls have been having a field day. Poor wee mites. However it was a good day despite another couple of bad moments. After all it was warm and sunny, and I saw my first ever Blackcap (cunningly hiding his black cap behind a leaf); got another nice flying Heron; saw a Mistle Thrush stuffing its face; and, as ever, caught up with the Little Grebe.
Stuff got done in the garden, while Isla and the Chickens got close. And generally it was a nice and relaxed bank holiday Monday. Generally.
Over breakfast there was the news that the place I've just started working for may be sold off by its parent. This in itself isn't, I think, a surprise to those people already working there, but having already been made redundant once this year my natural reaction is one of worry when I'd turned down a bonus to stay on an extra month at the job-from-hell to take on this role, and would now not qualify for any redundancy. Might be jumping the gun, but it's natural to have those thoughts run through your head when you're one of the last in...
And then Isla brought us a present.... I'd seen her spot something in the garden, and 30 seconds later she dropped something on the rug, gave me a little meow, then rolled over playfully onto her back in an aren't-I-clever pose. The present? A gull chick.
Now, there's not a chance she's raided a nest; nor is there any chance that a gull chick found itself in our garden of its own volition, this thing was young enough that its eyes hadn't opened yet. I can only surmise that another gull, or possibly a crow, has stolen the chick from a nest (the nearest site would be about half a mile from here) with the intention to have a small snack, and it has been dropped in our garden. Isla has seen it drop, grabbed it, and taken it to us. Joy. It was still alive. Marvellous.
Experience shows that the SSPCA isn't really that bothered about the occasional gull chick or juvenile that is in dire straits. And we had no clue where it had come from so there was no way of returning it. There was nowhere we could leave it either - it's not as if the parent would swoop down majestically and gently carry it back to the nest, more likely another bird or cat or fox would get it and it would meet a bitey end. And there was no telling what damage being picked up by another bird; dropped from a height; and picked up by a cat had done that I couldn't see.
The choice therefore was leave it to be eaten by something; leave it somewhere where it wouldn't be eaten but would die a slow death by either injuries or starvation; or... well... despatch it to bird heaven quickly and painlessly.
Kind of ironic after the last couple of days' blips with prawns being killed for us to eat. This unnerved me more. It's unlikely the world will miss one gull, and if the thieving bird after a meal hadn't dropped the chick, or Isla hadn't been there to see it dropped, it would have been long dead without me even knowing. The end is the same; the means, sadly, were quite literally in my hands.
So on a day when you start fearing for your only just new job, and you've had to take a life that you had hardly known, it pays to do something utterly frivolous with some of your evening in a vain attempt to make yourself feel better. So I give you, the Royal Felinonic Orchestra...