I started to write this post as a means of lifting my spirit and perking up my mood. I wasn’t depressed, I was just in one of those melancholy lows, you know the sort, the lows that go hand in hand with crappy weather.
The grey cloud of the January sky sank so low that only the nearest oaks were visible; everything beyond these was hidden by a claustrophobic cloak of depressing, damp mist. The weather really was that crappy. But, since that day, the weather, like my mood, as picked up. Ok, it’s not tropical out there; but the grey sky as lifted enough to give us a little more head-room, and I can see yonder woods. Yipee!
This change in weather conditions also encouraged a Blackbird and a Song Thrush to sing; hearing the songs of these two birds lifted my spirits, but not as high as the thought and memory of Sid lifted them.
As you know, there is no such species as a seagull. But for most of us, seagulls do exist and are a crucial factor in our memories’ of childhood holidays by the sea.
Jackie and I have cared for several sick or injured birds over the years; All are memorable, but Sid stands head and shoulders above all in our hearts and minds, he was a fighter and a character who won the hearts of all who met him.
Unfortunately, I have no photos of Sid, I have only these memories that I would now like to share with you.
Nottingham, England: The very thought of this City conjures up images of evil King John, the Sheriff Of Nottingham, and of course that hooded rascal Robin. But did you know that Nottingham was originally named Snotingham? Apparently so. The original settlement was named after the Saxon Chiefton Snot. It was William The Conqueror who later had the S removed. Centuries later, with the Castle in ruin, the myths and stories of chivalrous goings-on covered by the dust of time, I found myself in Nottingham, delivering a small generator to a customer. I was instructed by my Boss to stay local and collect the generator later that same day. This arrangement suited me fine because I had my Dad was with me. He loved his days out on the road, and I loved having him with me. He would make bacon sandwiches the night before I picked him up. At the last possible moment, he would add a dash of brown sauce, then wrap them in a bread wrapper. There was something old school, very much Dad, very much home, about this simple offering that made it special. This little parcel of delight would be opened, and the contents, eaten cold later in the morning.
With the generator safely delivered, we found ourselves a quiet spot overlooking the River Trent and parked up. The cold dark water of the Trent flowed slowly through the semi-industrial sprawl of this historical city, Its surface rolled and churned as if simmering. Leafless trees lined the banks, some planted intentionally, others, self-sets, gaining a foothold wherever they could.
Daybreak, although grey and murky, brought detail to our chosen spot. We saw feral Pigeons take to the wing, rising from their roost into leaden grey gloomy sky. A steady passage of Black-Headed Gull’s slowly followed the river’s course, patrolling for food. Two Magpies hopped with intent, amongst the branches of a tree, also searching for food. Their chattering calls were clearly audible. Somewhere distant, unseen by us, a Storm Cock sang.
Unbeknown to us, we were parked next to a children’s play area. At this time of day, at this time of year, the chances of anyone turning up to play were slim, so we made comfy and settled in.
Dad and I sipped at our coffee and tucked into our bacon butties, even cold, they smelt good and tasted even better. We tickle-tackled about all and nothing, generally enjoying the moment and each others company.
There was a large paddling pool to our right, empty, except for a few puddles of Winter rain, a collection of brown, brittle leaves, and a couple of empty crisp packets. A bitterly cold wind rippled the puddles of water. The leaves and litter, blown by the chilly wind, slid noisily across the turquoise coloured concrete floor as if the dead themselves were blowing them. The two Magpies now hopped and chattered excitedly on the paddling pool wall. In turn, One or the other would occasionally drop from sight, into the empty pool. Something had got their attention. I had to investigate.
I quickly briefed Dad as to what I was up to then exited the Landrover Discovery. Instantly, the bitter wind made my muscles tighten as I felt its rawness on my face. The two Magpies high-tailed it back into the nacked trees, scalding me with raucous calls, and bobbing their long tails in disapproval of my presence. I reached the paddling pool, a dog walker returning to her vehicle, opening the boot for her Springer Spaniel to jump in was the only sign of human life. I looked down into the paddling pool. I saw the body. I bunny-hopped the small wall into the empty pool and crouched next to the lifeless form. It was a Herring Gull! Dead or alive, I didn’t know, but early signs were not encouraging. Using my right hand to support the bird’s body weight and my left hand to support its head and neck I lifted him from the ice-cold puddle. He was colder than a block of ice, his feathers were soggy, and judging by the sharpness of his breast bone he’d been without food for some time. His eyes were closed, I couldn’t feel a heartbeat, he was lifeless. Was I too late? Was he dead? I used my thumbnail to prie open his beak, I needed to see the colour of the inside of his mouth. Had it been a grey/blue colour, this would have indicated shock, but, as it happens, it was pink, dangerously pale, but pink. It was while I was carrying out the preliminary checks that I saw his tongue move in an attempt to swallow. I allowed a few water droplets from my fingertips to enter his mouth. Feebly, his tongue moved in response to the life-giving liquid. He swallowed! He was alive!
Dad had been watching from the Discovery and had already prepared a recovery station using his jacket as the base and an old jumper as the inner wrap. From the sheltered side, I leaned into the Disco (Discovery) and placed the patient carefully onto the nest of soft, warm clothes, and gently wrapped him up.
We spent the rest of the day monitoring the bird, keeping him comfortable, and the bundle to make sure that it didn’t become damp.
We had found Sid.
We made the short journey home to Cannock. It was time to introduce the patient to my dear wife Jackie.
We didn’t live in a large country house with acres of rambling gardens, no, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment just off the town-centre. It was in front of the exterior door of this apartment, holding a bundle containing Sid that I now stood, waiting for Jack to buzz me in.
Well, that’s how we found him. If you are interested to discover more about Sid Watch this space.
Thank’s for reading.
Categories: Burning the Midnight Oil