Ducklings always get people’s attention. And now that I have that: I have become a Wildlife Casualty Volunteer with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (RSPCA). We volunteers even have our own acronym/title: WCV. Most know the RSPCA for its work with domestic animals. But, they do a brisk business with injured wildlife. Hence the need for volunteers to rescue, handle, transport animals.
I did a day’s worth of training with one of their inspectors. Although we did pick up a dog and leave a humane trap to capture an injured cat, we mostly picked up birds on this day, the dove below at a vet’s, and the ducklings at a private home.
The dove had an injured wing, as well an injury to its breast which we think might have been caused by an encounter with a cat. A member of the public had dropped it off at the vet’s, and we picked it up to be transported to the local wildlife center for antibiotics and recovery.
The ducklings were originally rescued, at a riverbed, with their mother who had been during some rough treatment by other ducks (possibly males looking to mate?). However, before we could get to the house, the mother flew off. And we were met with a plastic bowl filled with water and ducklings, paddling for their lives. It’s a common misconception that ducklings are best off in water. At this age, their feathers are not water-proof, and the mother would only have them for a very short time in the water.
I took both lots home with me, waiting for another volunteer to pick them up and bring them to the wildlife center. I opened the boxes to change the newspaper, give them a bit of fresh air and food. Everyone was bright, hungry, and thirsty, the ducklings wolfing down some meal worms, and the dove pecking away at seed. I did have a close call with the dove when I was changing the newspaper lining the box: those things are strong, and this one was even though injured. I must admit to a bit of a chase around the yard, trying to get it back in the box. You won’t tell anyone from the RSPCA, will you?
Anyway, everyone’s getting a bit blase about ducklings. The woman who came to pick up these patients said she had to transport 13 ducklings the day before, and apparently the Center is a bit overrun with them at the minute. Still, no duckling will be turned away.
The RSPCA comes in for a lot of stick here in the UK. Yes, they make mistakes. But, who would do their job? It’s the most heartbreaking thing. Our little terrier pup had a dismal back story. Luckily, it hasn’t broken her spirit, and interestingly, I think she is one dog who will love being in kennels. And, luckily, it doesn’t break the spirits of the men and women doing this job.
In this Biosphere
As usual business is booming. All the old guard is still here: Boss, the male blackbird; Gimpy Girl, the female blackbird, Dibble the female squirrel (I am working on a theory that each squirrel has a uniquely shaped tail). And a whole host of new faces: robins, jackdaws, magpies, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, sparrows, song thrushes, black birds, pigeons, doves, sparrowhawks. I even seen some gold finches, and the touch down of a few crows. Anyone living near farms will be familiar with the booming periodically from bird-scarers. And, I can understand how these renegades would drive a farmer crazy. I am also grateful they are using those, and not bird traps. Still, I’d love to get to know a few crows.
We still have our resident rat, and hedgehogs are starting to appear (got to see a lot of hedgehogs in the Center). And, of course, there are the bees. Our two hives seemed to have survived the winter. We’ve added supers to each of them, and they seem to be striving. But more on the menage over the next few posts.
And, I also have a newly planted cottage garden patch, a lovely present from my friend Jo. I hope to have picks of this over the next few posts. All I can remember of the names she gave me is catnip, cornflowers, foxgloves um,um [Jo can you help in a comment?] All reliably bee-friendly. In fact, they were investigating even without the blooms. And yes, those are nettles threatening to swallow some of the plants. I wanted to keep a patch for butterflies, although I will have to ensure it doesn’t swamp everything else.
For now, though, a couple of my favorite patches in the garden this time of year when all is purple:
This is a patch of wildflowers (weeds to some), and although they do not look it, are a blue-y purple. And, this is one I post every year, and every year everyone (and Jo) tell me what it is, but then I forget. I like the combo of blue and pink: