This year I didn’t take in so many birds. I took three swifts from the SGHN project. Two other swifts came to me. There was a swallow, the first swallow I have ever cared for. It was flighty but not flying enough. At first it resisted the mealworm I offered it, I had to gently pry open its beak, but then it gobbled them down hungrily. It was like it wanted me to know it resented taking food from me. It was so beautiful but I kept my distance. I adopted a sort of limited care approach. I put it perched on an artificial nest I had made under our porch. It had never been used, half occupied once by a wren and it had interested some swallows but was never taken up. It was a good place for it to perch and I fed it from there. 

Usually I would be concerned at night, maybe I would have taken it into a box for its own protection from night creatures and dangers, but I didn´t, I left it there alone. It was fine. One morning it wasn´t there and I thought it had flown away. Then M spotted it in the jasmine. I gave it a few mealworms there in the tangle of jasmine branches and then it flew to the washing line. It hung around for a morning, flying between different places around the house, and then it was gone. 

The most unusual guest was a gull. I really didn’t want to take it, I had no idea what I would do with it but I pleaded with, it would only be a few days. I didn’t know where to put it. This was such a different experience to anything before. It smelled like fish and tried to peck me. I had to learn how to handle it, so much bigger than the small birds I am used it. I was quite in awe of it. 

It was paralysed, which I was told was probably the result of ingesting toxins. Children had been throwing stones at it as it sat there unable to move. The hope was that it would recover if fed and cared for. I fed it fish which it gobbled down. It stayed in one place. After a couple of days of eating well I thought it might be able to fly, and it did. Such an impressive wingspan. Unfortunately it didn’t manage to fly far, it landed on my neighbours roof terrace and I had to go and retrieve it. I took it to someone else to care for, someone with more experience than me, but it died a few days later. 

I since learned that gull paralysis is a thing. A thing that has been affecting thousands of sea birds. It is called paretic syndrome and you can read about it here:

Paretic syndrome in gulls

Researchgate: Paretic Syndrome in gulls from Southern Portugal

Swifts and a little owl which was found at the side of the road, hit by a car – this was picked up by the CREA the wild animal rescue centre.