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.