AN EGRET IN HOVE

 

After walking a little way up this Hove road today, I saw a neighbour who was standing beside a small white bird whose claws grasped a piece of wood beside a garden wall. I asked, "is that a 'please take' item?" He replied, "no, it's a baby egret - I showed a picture to the fellow in the Post Office, and he identified it. Odd that it's here, as they like cliffs."

 

At that moment, the bird's head moved a little, and the neighbour told me that, wary of its fearsome beak, he had alerted a rescue service (as I had done a few years ago when a seagull could not fly from my pathway, owing to what proved to be botulism, caught by eating gone-off food somewhere).

 

I came back to get my camera, and the bird moved its head as I took this picture.

 

By now, I came to agree with the neighbour that the infant bird was alarmed, rooted to the spot, and wished him (and the egret) well with waiting for the rescue service to make sure that the egret was not taken by a predator. I was about to walk on, when the rescue service's driver arrived, so I stayed put (rather like the egret).

 

She looked at the bird, and opened up the back door of her car to get out a net while asking pedestrians to go past in the road. so that she could get closer to the egret with her net.

 

She took a step back. We were all surprised that the bird had not panicked.

 

The bird realised that help was at hand.

 

No, the rescuer moved towards the bird, held out a hand - and pulled off its head.

 

It had been held there by a long, thin nail; hence its moving now and then in the breeze.  This was, though, a real bird - or, at least had been. My neighbour was mightily embarrassed but the noble rescuer was in hoots and fits of laughter, rocking on her ankles and waving the net: this would be the stuff (or should I say stuffing) to dine out upon for ages. Not the bird, I mean, the incident; she advised putting the neighbour to put the hapless stuffed bird in a bin lest others make the same assumption and she is called back all day.

 

After this, I walked on, with other neighbours, one of whom mentioned Monty Python's sketch in which Michael Palin asserts, "the Norwegian Blue likes kipping on its back." I replied that I can see people saying, "the Hove Grey likes nodding its head."

 

As such, all this has a comic side but I also look at the photograph of the bird and feel sad at this spectacle.