Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Misplaced fauna

A few days ago we heard a new bird-call in the garden; on investigation we discovered a grey cockatiel attempting to drink from the swimming pool. It would launch off, tail trailing mournfully in the water and then land again on the paved surround, head cocked in confusion. We couldn't leave it, pretty though it looked amongst the lavender; it would get mobbed or eaten or both, so Ezra heroically netted it and put it into the spare parrot cage.

These are expensive birds, mmm . . . rationality prevailed.
"Ezra. We must make 'found bird' posters and take them to the vet's, etc."
Then I remembered the slightly unhinged woman a few doors along who has seven dogs, chickens, a goat, budgies, parrots, an elephant (possibly) and cockatoos . . .
Ezra went to inform her son of our find, and, a few hours later the mother tottered along on high-heeled espadrilles, her voice piercing in the afternoon silence: "Bebe? OH, Bebe, tu étais où, alors?"
Thanks was brief, and then she told me off for not shutting our shutters: "Oof, il fait tellement chaud chez vous!"
"Oh, OK, au revoir then . . . "

Two days ago on a trip out to festeringly hot 'Bages' on the coast we found another lost beast.
As we turned a corner in the village, I saw a tiny blob attached to a huge blank, boiling hot wall: not a dead leaf caught on a scrap of web, but a minuscule bat: really so tiny, like it would be lost in a matchbox.
It was perhaps a few days old, no fur, just like the baby mice that I saw so many times in the old mother mouse's bedding back in my childhood. Why was it there in direct 40 degree sunlight?
How many times have I done this . . . and I never learn: pigeons with broken legs, vicious gulls with maimed feet, hopeless swallows, mice in the throws of a heart attack after being dropped by the cat; this was probably the silliest yet, but I couldn't leave it on that wall.
We took it home in a cigar box and tried to tempt it with milk, squashed flies etc. The next day was filled with bat-angst phone calls to bewildered bat experts who obviously knew it was hopeless. One even suggested putting it the fridge 'it will go to sleep' then the freezer - 'it is perhaps the kindest thing'.

I should have perhaps found a more local tree, or camped out and waited for a frantic mother looking for her helpless offspring. How can something the size of a toothbrush head cause so much household disturbance? But it did: chaos, forgotten appointments, burnt lunch, frequent anxious checks by us all: 'look he/she is sucking that piece of wet kitchen roll - hoorah, all is going to be OK'. But we knew it wouldn't be for long.
We'd been invited out for supper, and the hosts own a large tree-y piece of land, outbuildings, and bats! We took Boris with us and at the appropriate dusk moment, re-attached him/her to a tree where she/he commenced high pitch squeakings, quite loud for something of that size. Bats circled and I tried to picture a happy outcome: probably unrealistic, but hopefully better than being frazzled on a wall or fridge-death.
It must be the menopause, (ridiculous sentimentality) or perhaps it is just me, but the thought of that tiny perfectly formed bat clinging to an oak tree is firmly wedged in my mind.
Good luck, Boris . . .

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