Jack of all Trades

Today began as usual with the walk to the allotment in the April sunshine. What was to follow in the next half hour was completely unexpected.

We surveyed the work from yesterday and decided it looked even better than the day before. It will take some getting used to after six years of hanging off the shed door in an attempt to not step on the soil. But it’s something I relish getting used to! I have also cooked up a rather excellent idea for a finishing touch to the veranda after Andy’s suggestion yesterday. Watch this space!

Between us, we fed and watered the chicks, the old girls in the main coop and Leia and Rey in theirs. As I popped back into the main coop to see whether Pop and Polly had finished laying, I spotted an interloper. A wild bird, crow family judging by the colour, was hopping around the coop. I wasn’t sure why it was there but upon closer inspection it appeared to have an injured left wing. Suddenly, the chickens spotted the bird and launched a full on attack. The poor bird desperately tried to get away from Pop and Hattie who were going at it hell for leather. Eventually, it escaped long enough to jump up onto the wiring and climb up out of range. It then spent several minutes working out how to escape through the bars. Once out, it ambled around the Community Garden before disappearing off somewhere.

Marvelling at what had just happened we started to collect together rubbish that could be bagged up and go into the pile on the car park for the skip. Halfway through I heard Tracy calling Cliff to see a bird that had got stuck in her greenhouse. I followed with niggling suspicion in the back of my mind that I might recognise the bird. Sure enough, there he was. We all could see the bad wing clearly and we decided to try to catch it and get it seen to. Tracy disappeared off to get a towel and a pet cage. Fortunately she had both to hand!

Muggins here volunteered to shut herself into the greenhouse with the injured bird armed only with a towel. I slowly approached the bird who was jumping over Tracy’s pots, towel held out in front of me. I managed to corner it and pick it up in the towel fairly easily. It was here I made my big mistake. I had used the towel to cover the bird’s body but not it’s head. Unsurprisingly, the bird took extreme exception to being caught and wrapped in a towel and turned its sharp pointed beak on the captor. I’m not proud of the language I used as the bird caught the skin on my finger and tried to rip it off my hand. Needless to say, I dropped the bird to nurse my bruised and slightly bloodied finger. The smug look on that bird’s face was it’s undoing. I grabbed the towel again and unceremoniously caught the bird, tossing part of the towel over its head to stop it eating me alive. I turned to find Tracy had the greenhouse door open and I shoved towel and bird into the cage, slamming the door behind it.

The next problem was who to take it to. The local vet wouldn’t but suggested the local RSPCA. I called them and they were closed due to the pandemic. I then tried the RSPB but couldn’t find anyone to call. In a last ditch attempt, I found a list of “local” independent wildlife hospitals and nature reserves. I rang the nearest one who not only answered the phone but said they would accept the bird. As I was trying to find some medical aid for the bird, Tracy and Bradley gave it a dish with water in and a few mealworms. It enjoyed a drink but wasn’t too fussed with the food.

I hollered for my husband, we grabbed the carrier with the bird and dashed home to pick up the car. The car journey is not one I would forget in a hurry. The gaps in the carrier, designed to calm and soothe cats, wasn’t designed to help someone transporting a bird. It’s long sharp beak could easily peck it’s captor through the bars. I ended up spending the half an hour trip gingerly holding the top and bottom of the cage, trying to keep as far away from the bars as possible. I don’t think it was particularly happy about being in the car because after 15 minutes, it started to peck at the inside of the carrier. The force it generates when pecking is very impressive and makes a very loud noise that echoes around the car.

Finally we arrived and met the person I had spoken to on the phone. She took the bird inside and had a look at its wing and leg. She reappeared a few minutes later, holding the bird in one hand. What was hilarious was it was now wearing a kitchen roll tube on its head. This was to ensure no one else got half eaten. A brilliant idea if you think about it. Also, so is wearing thick gloves when you catch an irate injured bird but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Ho hum. She said that he had previously broken his wing but that it had fused back together incorrectly. Upon discovering he was a Jackdaw we christened him Jack and waved him goodbye. The charity will care for and try to help him over the next week. I can email for an update next Wednesday. As we drove home, we left a donation to cover the costs of keeping Jack. It’s so good to know there are places still up and running who can care for injured wildlife.

We swung by the allotment on the way home to give Tracy her carrier back and to update her. Bradley wants it back so he can tame it and keep it on site. I quite like the idea too! Here’s hoping that in a week we could pick it up and bring it back to the allotment!

Before we left, we finished collecting up the last few bits of rubbish to go for the skip and put them on the car park. I am surprised at how little there is there currently. Saying goodbye to Tracy and Bradley, we walked home marvelling at how exciting life on an allotment can be!

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