Friday, 14 November 2014

A seagull in the kitchen

But our guest of honour has to be the seagull that arrived in our back yard one blustery morning in late August.  My youngest sons couldn’t believe that it was still a young bird because it was so big, but it still had its brown feathers.  It was handicapped due to the fact that one foot was missing, but it had obviously been treated previously as it had a bandage around the bottom of the leg which was still intact, so it was able to hobble about.  It transpired that it had been rescued from some children who were treating it cruelly at the sea and brought home by some boys who were visiting for the summer, but they had obviously left and it must somehow have managed to fly from their balcony down to our backyard with the aid of the wind.  At first we were afraid that the cats would attack it at night so we used to bring it in through the kitchen to the middle courtyard and had to move Jack the tortoise into a box for the night, which he took very well until  morning when all you could hear was scratching and scraping and thumping – for such a small rock he can make a lot of noise. 

The seagull was named Moriarty after the villain in Sherlock Holmes, but my sister said he should be named Jonathan after Jonathan Livingston Seagull and my nephew considered Steven Seagal (which I considered an insult seeing as ‘our’ seagull was a far better actor which isn’t saying much – Jack the tortoise was a better actor).  We finally had a willing customer for my youngest son’s fishing sprees, and when he skedaddled off for a week, his friend came and supplied us with food for it and with my husband buying sardines it was the best fed seagull on this side of the Mediterranean coast.  It wasn’t long before we realised he could definitely hold his own with any of the cats that had the courage to stray into our backyard while he was there – all he had to do was flap his enormous wings and they all flew up the fig trees, so we left him in the backyard.  We brought in a vet (who was visiting the cat across the road!) who said there wasn’t much more we could do, and after looking up as much as we could on the good old internet, we learnt that he would eventually fly off himself when he was ready.  In the meantime he practised trying to fly which was always fine, but his landing was a bit awkward.  However I was comforted by the fact that seagulls seem to spend a lot of time standing on one leg anyway so he wouldn’t be too inconvenienced by his handicap.  Every now and again he came to the back door into the kitchen and walked right in so then I had to gently guide him back out again.  Then one morning about a month later he was gone, off to the seagull world up in the sky, and I still find myself looking up when one flies overhead and wonder if it’s him. 

A week later it was pouring rain and my youngest son told me about a little kitten that was outside the front of our house and who seemed to be an orphan.  I’ve become really good at becoming deaf to these kind of stories over the years – there are so many kittens around the neighbourhood that there’s no way we could see to all of them.  The next day I was out and when I returned home this teensy weensy little kitten was sitting by our door, but my daughter persuaded me to leave it.  However later my second youngest son asked my husband and me to let it in so we did, and that is how Kitty (I know…..SO inventive) came to stay.  She settled down into a box in the garage and was quite sickly at first but then seemed to pick up.  But to be honest, despite all the cooked chicken livers and other innards, cheese and even dried cat food donated by our neighbour, a visit to the vet,  baths and cuddles she received she never really thrived.  Five weeks later she died in her sleep, and yes, I bawled my eyes out as did my youngest.  Funny how such a small defenceless little thing can make such a big impact.


In addition to various animal guests we have also had the odd insect guest with the emphasis on ‘odd’.   There was the wasp who decided to start work on a nest just above the living room window, and who had to be removed.

 We’ve had geckos which, to my eyes, are quite cute…..until they leave their tails behind.  Then there was the night when everyone was asleep and I was in my living room minding my own business when I saw what seemed to be a big moth flying around.  It flew at me and so totally overcome by my beauty was it that it promptly fell down in a heap on the sofa.  At closer inspection it proved not to be a moth at all but a praying mantis.  It recovered from its ordeal and I sent it on its way into the night.

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