Days 5 and 6 of #30DaysWild have been a mixed up, muddled up, jumble of moments. Both days have been a cocktail of sun and rain; heavy rain that pelted the skylight in the living-room roof and angered the roadside ditches until they were swollen and swirling, and blinding brilliance of sun magnified through a thousand water drops. Today, June 6th, the racing squally skies were accompanied by gale force winds. I felt rather like Piglet being flown like a kite on the end of Kanga’s unraveling scarf in that favourite Winnie-the-Pooh story. Although of course, that was on ‘winds-day’, and today was only Tuesday.
Yesterday, I planned to make the most of my rained-off lunch-break by finding nature in the pages of a new book. I was delighted to stumble across a copy of ‘The Sussex Landscape’ on a second hand book stall at the event on Sunday (more to follow on that grand outing shortly in a separate blog post). I have a strong curiosity about Sussex and its heritage and history, as my maternal ancestry has long established links to the county I still call home. The book leads the reader from the ground up – through the complex geology of the land itself, through the layers of influence and impact of human activity. It makes a great partner to my other current read, ‘The Making of the English Landscape’.
My plans were interrupted by a cry for assistance. As my passion for wildlife is well known amongst my colleagues, whenever a nature related query or issue arrises I get called in to take responsibility! On this occasion it was a rather worrying and urgent situation. One of my colleagues had been working all morning near our storage sheds, sorting the recycling. He had just started on the last stack of plastic plant pot trays and uncovered, much to his surprise and instant dismay, a previously undetected birds nest. It was the nest of a robin, and contained some tiny nestlings and two eggs. The nestlings were only a day or two old, still blind and mostly naked. On closer inspection it was clear that one of the four chicks was dead, and the other three were very cold. They were lethargic, hardly able to move or lift their heavy heads, hunched over the remaining two eggs. I had been working close by during the morning, and neither of us had seen an adult robin in the vicinity all day. It was soon apparent that this nest was now abandoned and action had to be taken soon or the three chicks had no chance at all of survival. We felt responsible, even though it was not possible for us to have known about the nest until it was too late.
A cardboard box and a heat-lamp were employed, and the chicks were given an hour to respond. I was prepared to accept that they may well be too cold and weak to recover at all and that the kindest thing may be to let them pass away, but I couldn’t give up without trying. Much to my surprise, after an hour under the heat lamp these tiny, and impossibly young chicks, so new and vulnerable, were beginning to lift their heads and open their wide yellow-orange gaping beaks to beg for food! A local friend responded to my plea (Thank you so very much Hugh!) and soon arrived to collect the nest and rush it to the local wildlife rescue charity and bird hospital. Caring for such young birds is a full time and expert job, so it was important to get them to someone who had appropriate experience rather than attempt to look after them ourselves.
Today’s experiences were a little less emotional and frenzied. The day started off doused in heavy rain, and it is only now as the sun is sinking that the winds have begun to blow themselves out. The roads are littered with debris ripped from the trees, and I cant help but wonder about the fortunes of birds nesting in the woodlands and hedgerows. I hope they hang on tightly!
Unable to venture far due to the weather, I turned to the internet for my #30DaysWild fix, enjoying reading about the adventures of so many other participants. Whilst on Twitter I came across a tweet by Heather Rodenhurst (@shropsforever) sharing a poem by a poet that I had not previously come across. Sadly, the trigger for this tweet was the sad passing of the poet, Helen Dunmore at the age of 62. I was instantly struck by this poem, entitled ‘Crossing the field’, and I knew I had to share it here with you. I fell in love with the imagery, and the encapsulated sense of wonder and joy in the simple things of life, the beauty of nature. It played on the heartstrings of that thread of Cornish ancestry (my paternal grandfather’s line) that calls me back to the western county from times to time, and on another level also seemed so timely and perfect for #30DaysWild. So here it is, with thanks to Heather… ‘Crossing the field’ by Helen Dunmore, 1952-2017, from her ‘Glad of these Times’ anthology.
Sadly it was only after the drama was all over yesterday, that I realised I didn’t take a photo of the rescued robin nest, but here is today’s 30-second clip of a micro-moment with nature.
A note on baby birds and nests…
Please remember it is important to not disturb birds at their nests. It is actually illegal to disturb or destroy the nest or eggs of any breeding wild bird in the UK. In the unfortunate and unavoidable occurrence that you discover a nest has been disturbed or damaged to the point of abandonment, seek help immediately. Otherwise, and if in any doubt, leave well alone—parent birds are strongly bonded to their nest and will usually return when left in peace. Often, when the chicks fledge (leave the nest) they look to us to be far too young and often can barely fly. Don’t worry, they and the adult birds know best, and the parents will not be far away!
Here is a easy and useful guide from my local Wildlife Trust on what action to take:
The centre that took our rescued robin nest, is Brent Lodge in West Sussex. They, like all similar small independent wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services and charities are in desperate need of help, in the form of volunteers and donations. From newspapers to cat food! Please consider helping if you can, as the dedication of the volunteers that run these places is remarkable. https://www.brentlodge.org/