Tom Herbert

Breakfasting with the animal kingdom

animalsI’m fairly sure the animal kingdom doesn’t like me going to work. Given recent events this is the only logical conclusion I can muster, as twice in two days I have been prevented from leaving at my allotted time by mother nature’s nefarious network of agents.

Yesterday as I plodded bleary-eyed downstairs to breakfast through the window I was greeted by the sight of an extremely well-fed brown rat. It was sitting bold as brass in the plastic bowl-like feeder we keep stuck on the outside of our kitchen window and was helping himself to a few sunflower seeds. It seemed completely unperturbed by my presence and I was able to walk to with a few feet of it without causing it any alarm. I kept a pet rat as a child and so am quite fond of them, but Isabel is less of a fan – something to do with diseases and chewing through wires – and so when she appeared the window was flung open and the rat was dispatched in a hail of angry cursing and hissing. We haven’t seen the rat since, and as a precaution that morning we removed all bird food and conducted a thorough sweep of the patio to make sure there were no more tasty morsels left for our furry friend.

Perhaps removing the food led indirectly to today’s further escalation from the natural world. I’d gone through my morning routine undisturbed and was just going through the daily wrestle with my tie when I heard a shout from downstairs. Isabel seemed in some distress, and when I enquired as to the cause of the commotion she shouted: ‘There’s a bloody bird in the living room!’

‘Pardon’, I said, thinking that perhaps I’d heard her incorrectly.

‘There’s a starling flying around our living room’, she emphasised firmly.

On top of the mounted shelves upon which we keep our books and ornaments was perched a fledgling starling about the same size as my hand. It had probably flown down the chimney in search of food, and its usually brown feathers were darkened with soot. Quite naturally, given the unfamiliar environment, it seemed a little disorientated. Its beak was open wide, panting and squawking, and periodically it would fly into the net curtains in search of a way out.

We realised we had to remove our visitor fairly quickly or two things were likely to happen. Firstly with its flapping and general demeanour it was likely cause a great deal of damage to our front room and probably make a mess on the carpet, and secondly (and more seriously) the bird seemed likely to work itself up into such a state that it would keel over and expire.

After rejecting the first plan of catching it in a tea towel, I grabbed the washing-up bowl and made for the sitting room door. My first efforts were less than successful, as the sight of a man in a suit and tie brandishing a bright red plastic bowl seemed to spur it on to flap even more vigorously, knocking one of pictures askew. Fortunately at length I managed to force the bowl down over the now hysterical bird and, with the aid of a large book underneath, carry it outside to be released.

Needless to say I arrived at work late and dishevelled, but did have a good story to tell … So what can I expect to find when I descend the stairs tomorrow? Vampire bats in the spare room? A woolly mammoth in the shower? Dear readers, should anything untoward happen you’ll be the first to know 😉

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