Sid The Seagull: UP 1-2 DOWN 1-2

Yippee! Sid could open his eyes! Whenever he detected movement near his position, his eyelids would open, revealing the concentric circles of life. It was as if a Magician’s wand had touched him. To see the pale egg yolk yellow of his iris surrounding the dark brown circle of his pupil that contained my image hushed me into silence and drew a smile. To see him blink, this minuscule movement, broadcast hope.
His eyes had life in them; they glinted, they shone. I’d seen the life fade from eyes, animal and human, before. The light of life fading as if being taken by the spirit to use somewhere else. As it dims, it reminds me of the last trace of orange glow fading from a coiled filament. But what I was experiencing here, for the first time in my life, was that light returning. Sid was void of movement, and couldn’t react by natural means whenever danger threatened by either flying, pecking or struggling; he would telegraph his mood by using his eyes and adopting a rather stern facial expression. Which he did wonderfully well. This stern expression could be interpreted as angry, aggressive, or simply peeved at being disturbed. Whatever it stood for, his appearance and demeanour softened once he realised that it was us.
Overtime, Sid had not only been taking on water but also tiny bite-sized pieces of tinned mackerel. These were carefully placed one at a time using Jack’s eyebrow tweezers on the back of his throat. They were the tiniest of pieces; we didn’t want him to choke. Also, because of Sid’s inactivity, a regime of physio had to be introduced. We had to keep the circulation going in his legs. So, Jack would hold him in a two-handed grip around his body, so that should he panic, she could restrain and easily control him. She would keep him above her lap,¬†letting his spindly, weak pink legs dangle in the air. She would lovingly as if amusing a baby lower Sid’s body until the soles of his webbed feet touched her lap, from this position she would playfully, remaining careful, lower Sid’s body then lift it again. My part was to use an index finger under his bill to support his head.
This practice went on and on until eventually, Sid could sit on his nest holding his head upright. So, there he would sit, now able to turn his head and preen his grey mantle. He had a small water bowl that he drank from freely under his own steam and a little dish with a helping of his favourite mackerel in sunflower oil on it. Amongst the many things that Sid enjoyed, his favourite by far was watching Poldark on a Sunday evening. He would indulge in a nibble followed by a nip of water, and then he would preen as if the Queen herself were popping in to join him. Before the titles rolled and the theme music began, Jack had to lift him and his nest onto the settee.
It was while Sid was watching tele that I had my lightbulb moment. I left Sid sat on the settee with Jack; he was getting excited over a cliff-top scene that included Seagulls. I went into our small bathroom and half-filled the bathtub with lukewarm water. When Poldark finished, Jack brought Sid into the bathroom and lowered him into the clear water. Well, I wish you could have seen him; he ducked and bobbed his head under the surface, blobs of silver appeared on his back then rolled down his flanks back into the bath. He shook his head vigorously flicking water up the walls, and making Jack and myself recoil as if it would cause pain. Under the surface, thanks to the clear water, we could see his webbed feet working away to propel and steer him along the length of the bath. To say that he was ecstatic would be an understatement.
Sid finished off his evening with a light blowdry and a pilchard.
I think it was safe to say at this stage that Sid was well on the way to recovery but not entirely out of the woods.

Join us again and find out how we got on with Sid and his 1.4mtr wingspan let loose in a small appartment.

Sid The Seagull part two: Tears

The end of the working day, home at last. I rang the doorbell, Jack, my wife, buzzed me in. I gently shouldered the outside door open and stepped inside the entrance hall; it was a wonderful feeling to leave the cold winter and the hum and din of traffic behind, it felt as if I was stepping from one world into another. At the top of the first flight of stairs, holding the front door of our flat open stood Jack, the light behind her silhouetted her image. That image will stay with me forever; it was an image that radiated warmth and welcome.
Jack watched me climb the dozen or so stairs until I was close enough for her to speak without raising her voice.
“What you got there, sweetheart?” She inquired, referring to the semi-organised assortment of clothes that I was carrying.
“It’s a Gull, a Herring Gull, and it looks as though he needs a little care and attention.”
“Bring him in, let’s have a look at him.”
Still holding the door open, Jack made room for me to pass. Our eyes met, but we didn’t speak, the expressions of concern etched on our faces spoke volumes.
I placed the make-shift bird nest down onto the carpet, in a place where it wasn’t going to get trodden on or accidentally kicked.
Jack, now kneeling in front of Sid’s hastily constructed recovery nest, started to unravel it carefully. Leaning over the arm of the sofa, I watched as Jack gently and caringly peeled back the last piece of the jumper, a sleeve, revealing Sid.
Sid looked the same as he did when last I saw him as if he’d fallen asleep. As if he was dead.
“It’s not looking good, sweetheart. Get me a cup of lukewarm sugar water and a deep spoon, please.” Said Jack.
I did as requested and then watched as Jack dripped a few drops of the sugar water onto Sid’s pink pointed tongue. It was heart-wrenching to see the feeble desperation with which he attempted to lap at the warm, sweet liquid.
Jack changed Sid’s bedding, making sure that he was clean and dry, then every hour she moistened inside of his beak with warm sugar water.
We spent the evening chatting about the moral issues involved with my actions, of which, there were many. The main concern was, were we prolonging the bird’s suffering. No, we weren’t, was the decisive answer. Sid was in that lovely place between life and death; he was beyond feeling any pain, nor did he care if he lived or died. How do I know? Because I’ve been in that beautiful warm place that I now call death’s waiting room! The natural will to survive, to hang onto that last remaining thread of life was now his only hope. Playing God is a role that I wouldn’t put on anyone intentionally or otherwise, but, as we all know, that time eventually comes and confronts us head-on, shredding our principles to pieces, and pulling our emotions from pillar to post. Are we meant to turn our heads, pretend we’ve not noticed, and shy away from deciding to help the helpless, whether it be a bird, dog or human-being? The long and short of the situation is that I interfered with nature; I played God. The consequences of which is, that Sid is now with us. We must give him every chance to live.
Days past, how many, I can’t remember, Sid’s condition remained the same, but we continued the routine of trickling droplets of warm sugar water onto his tongue. Every morning I expected the worse, the inevitable, to discover that that last thread had snapped. But no, his little tongue kept searching out the offered water, his swallowing was getting stronger. And then, one evening, entirely by accident, a small miracle happened!
We were using a small, blue plastic measuring spoon to transfer water from the glass to Sid’s beak. It was an elongated oval shape and held a tablespoon of liquid. Well, Jack held the spoon while I used my thumbnail to open Sid’s beak, but I accidentally dunked the tip of the beak into the water. What happened next amazed us both; there was a visible ripple on the surface of the water, Sid was drinking!
Sid was still panned out, his neck muscles too weak to support his head, which was rested against a fluffy towel.
Jack and I watched as Sid drank, it was a heartwarming moment, that’s for sure. We looked at each others smiling faces; our beaming smiles were broad, broad enough to get crumbs in our ears, broad as a Chesire Cats. Still smiling I looked down at Sid, it looked as though he was sleep drinking; then the drinking stopped, stilling the water’s surface and smoothing the snow-white feathers of Sid’s throat that had moved with each gulp.
The smiles vanished from our faces; Jack removed the tip of Sid’s beak from the spoon; then straightening her back, and looked at me. I looked at her, then we both looked at Sid. Experiencing and sharing the same emotions as each other, we both moistened our eyes with blinks, that prevented the brimming tears from escaping down our cheeks.
Before Jack could fold the towel over Sid’s body, the smiles returned to our faces. I thought that the corners of my mouth were going to meet on the back of my head. Sid had opened his eyes!
High fives didn’t exist back then but had they have done; I’m pretty sure the clap of our meeting palms would have resonated for miles around.
Below are a few recent photos of Jack, with little Smudge, and Kracker her favourite horse.

This is a recent photo of Jack together with little Smudge.Jack, with her little pal Smudge
Jack, doing a butterfly count
Jack, saddling Kracker up, ready for a plod

Part Three of Sid The Seagull will be available soon, stay tuned. Bye for now.

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