photo from RSPB
These wading birds like to shuffle around in the undergrowth of slightly marshy land. It was therefore a bit of a shock to see one wandering across the road this evening, just round the corner from us, i.e. surrounded by houses and just yards from one of the main roads out of Colchester. WHAT the???
Luvbug had been driving back from dropping mum off home when he spotted it.
He came in and asked if we had a bigger box, somehting for a snipe. A SNIPE? What?
We do keep a box lined with shredded paper in the boot, for any injured wildlife we come across. In the past this has consisted mostly of confused hedgehogs. But he was right, it wasn't big enough for a snipe, so I dug out a bigger one and grabbed a towel, while he grabbed two torches and off we went....
We drove round the corner and looked up a few driveways. Luvbug couldn't quite remember which one he'd seen it heading towards. He'd been more concerned with shooing away a black cat who'd also come over to investigate this weird visitor to our neighbourhood. Luvbug spotted the bird crouching in some shrubs, so I rang the door bell to ask the residents if it was ok to fetch it out of their garden.
The man who lived there was surprised, and as I picked up the bird, he retreated into the house to get a torch. As I was folding the towel into the box, and getting ready to snuggle the bird into it, he came down the driveway for a look. He and Luvbug had a chat, and he was quite happy to hear that such a rare bird had chosen his garden to sneak into.
Tucked under the towel, we took said snipe to the emergency vet. They will take in any injured or sick wildlife overnight; they look after them till the day team come in, and then they call in someone from a rescue sanctuary to take over.
Well, from my very basic exam', and Luvbug's descriptions of how it was stumbling, we had thought that its left leg was injured. But the vet told us that it seemed to be neurological, as he was a bit weak all down that side. A stroke? He didn't think it was shock. We wondered if he'd flown into something and was concussed. The vet wasn't sure, so said he'd give it anti-biotics and keep it warm, but that if nothing improved he would have to put it to sleep. And we left him there...
Awwww after having held this bird and seen him up close, such a cute face, such soft feathers, and such a majestic beak, I was quite sad to hear that his prognosis wasn't good. But at least it meant he wouldn't die in the cold in that garden, or be attacked by a predator.
When we got home we looked up snipe in our bird books. And discovered that it had actually been a woodcock after all. It seemed somehow sadder to have left him mislabelled. Never mind. If he reached the rescue centre, I'm sure they'll know what he is :)
photo from BTO site
The woodcock, despite it being legal still to hunt and eat in some places, has been placed on the 'amber' alert list by the RSPB. You can read about them on their RSPB page here, they also have a recording of the noise it makes there :)
BTW, here's the RSPB site's picture of a snipe. Can you see how we mixed them up?!