The end of a charmed run, watching tadpoles, and a greenhouse mouse

This weekend, I was asked to care for a pair of day old moorhen chicks and a very young blackbird chick. All had feeding/serious issues and were proving far too time consuming for our, currently, extremely busy wildlife unit.

So began a torturous weekend. The tiny moorhens were utterly wild and ran frantically from my approaching hand, resulting in me having to grab them to even attempt to feed them, and of course they completely refused the mealworm, time after time, hour after hour. I can’t describe how utterly frustrating this is.

I donned a black glove and cellotaped the tweezers to mimic mum’s beak, which did calm them down, you can see from the photo how they fixate on them. Hubs black woolly hat became a warm nest to hide in under the heat table, and a beanie baby, lookalike mum, popped into the hat, was swiftly adopted.

Eventually, one of the moorhen chicks took a mealworm and a sip of water, and then took one each hour…..oh…. the relief. By now the blackbird was feeding well but still looked sickly.

My major concern was trying to get the second moorhen chick going. Somehow I managed to get three mealworms into her throughout the day….not enough though. I fed/tried to feed all three until midnight and then went to bed.

I rose at six and walked into a nightmare scenario. The blackbird chick was dying, so I just added a heatpad, covered the poor creature, and let it be. Not easy to watch. The non-feeding moorhen chick was looking fragile and weak and could barely call, and try as I might I couldn’t get her feeding, so syringed a little watered down AD into herΒ beak. Two hours later, she died too. Not good, not good at all.

This is a first for me. All the creatures I’ve cared for at home have survived, the only exception being a huge baby hoglet that died before I got it home, so this all came as something of a shock. Poor little mites. Seems my charmed run is over and thinking back, there is absolutely nothing I could have done to change that outcome. They really got my best shot.

Now I have one remaining moorhen who isn’t eating very much. Hour after hour I have tried to feed him. He finally ate three mealworms a few hours ago, and I almost cried with relief. Rather than eat, he prefers to brood and sleep under my gloved hand, and tweet at me, and of course now I’m mummy I tweet back. He’s no longer manic and at least he’s getting a little comfort. I really, really hope he makes it through the night. Wish us luck……

So, as a distraction in between the final feeds, I thought I may as well write a post. Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to.

Watching tadpoles.

This is always so very soothing, especially in between stressy feeds.

The front garden is gradually being weeded.

I actually caught Sam snapping the heads off tulips, ever so casually mind!

These tulips should have been called everlasting. On and on they go.

My ancient urns and milk churns. Now the leaves are brushed they are visible once again!

The veggie patch is weeded. Leeks, strawberries, broad beans, soft fruit, garlic and other plants are all doing well and potatoes are finally planted.

The old ‘orrible hedge-border is coming along nicely and looks so much better having been weeded and mulched.

The climbers are covering the railings beautifully.

Faces have been painted for the spring open day at the rescue……

and games have been designed and proved successful, especially when run by daughter.

Wildlife is filling up with chicks, especially ducklings!

Oh…and remember the Macaw? Well, his owner was found and apparently the reunion was extremely emotional. The macaw, Max, went wild with happiness and walked out on his owner’s shoulder. He escaped through an open window in the conservatory where he flies free. He sounds like one lucky parrot, he goes on regular walkabouts on his bloke’s shoulder around their neighbourhood!!!

And Finally…

I have a greenhouse mouse and it’s driving me crazy! It’s dug up and eaten all the courgette seeds and scattered the seedlings in the other trays while looking for more. I’ve checked everywhere but can’t find it. I know it’s in there somewhere though as Buddy is offering his services, and of course I don’t have the heart to let him loose. In the end, I gave up, and left bird seed out for it. I’ve re-sown everything so fingers crossed eh?

  46 comments for “The end of a charmed run, watching tadpoles, and a greenhouse mouse

  1. April 24, 2017 at 12:17 am

    I’m so impressed with your efforts for those moorhens and the disguised tweezers. I’m sorry they haven’t thrived despite your very best efforts. The story of the Max being reunited with his human is certainly cheering.

    I’m also terribly impressed with your tidying in the garden. After that storm had wreaked all kinds of havoc and make-work, I’m amazed you have created such order. The flowering rhododendron (?) and cherry blossoms and un-be-headed tulips are just wonderful.

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Why thank you Anne. Happily, my third charge survived the night, it was such a relief finding it alive this morning!!!
      The garden is a work in progress, slowly slowly catch your monkey …patience is required and a blind eye to the sections still needing sorting.
      Yes, a rhododendron and an azalea, I thought it best to stick with pinks and reds in spring given all the pink cherry blossom. xxx

  2. veggiemummy
    April 24, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Oh, those poor little chicks. All power to you for doing such wonderful work – the decoy mum with the tweezers is ingenious. I’ll cross everything for the remaining chick. I love moorhens; we have one that comes to the back door with the ducks to be fed, but she’s a timid little thing. You garden is looking fabulous – despite Sam’s best efforts! – and I’m thrilled that Max and his owner we successfully reunited. Have a great week. xx

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      It was so sad losing two of my charges, young birds are so vulnerable and seeing them die isn’t pretty. Thankfully the second moorhen chick survived and is now being cared for by another member of staff. It was such a relief finding it alive this morning, I was beginning to fear the worst. I hope the poor thing survives, time will tell. How lovely that you have atimid moorhen visiting. Thanks

  3. veggiemummy
    April 24, 2017 at 5:56 am

    ‘were’ successfully reunited! Sorry, morning brain! xx

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Oh…you and me both re brains that don’t kick-in in the

  4. Jo
    April 24, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Poor little chicks, nature will have her way no matter how we try to stop the inevitable. Fingers crossed that the third chick will thrive. What a busy time of year for you with everything going on at the rescue, the garden and the fundraisers. I love the Pick a Prickle game, what a great idea.

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Very true, some outcomes are inevitable. Thankfully the third chick survived and is being cared for by another member of staff…..I must say, moorhens, that young are impossible to get going. I’ve never come across such stressy chicks, finally, I can drop my shoulders and breathe! Pick a prickle is an easy game, the kids loved it. Thanks

  5. April 24, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Delightful post…as usual, D! Ever the ‘Caring Mother’….. πŸ˜‰
    Pictures all reflect the presence of Spring…..
    Lovely! Hugs!πŸ’•πŸ’•

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks Bushka, spring is such a wonderful time of the year! Hugs to you

  6. April 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    That must have been heartbreaking for you. We went to a reserve in Norfolk last weekend and watched a young coot being taught to trawl weed from the water by its mum.

    I empathise with the mouse problem.

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      It is stressful when a chick won’t feed and fades before your eyes. It was the hardest weekend I’ve ever known caring for chicks. Happily, chick no three is still with us and is now being cared for by someone else, I do hope he makes it. How lovely watching that young coot.
      Having now read your post, I get your mouse comment. What havoc they wreak in greenhouses!xxx

  7. April 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Somewhat of a bitter-sweet post, and lovely pictures. I think that you’ve been really lucky not to have lost any animals in your care before now so perhaps it was inevitable at some point, and I’m sure these were just a blip so to speak.
    Good to know that the macaw was reunited with it’s owner. The gardens looking good. As for the mouse, fingers crossed. xx

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      I agree Flighty, my run was certainly charmed and couldn’t last forever, hopefully you’re right and it’s just a blip! Happily, the third chick survived and is now being cared for by someone else so I can chill a little. I do hope it makes it. Everyone was thrilled to see the parrot reunited with it’s owner, what luck! xxx

  8. April 24, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t think it’s the end of the run for you, Dina – I’m certain there will be hundreds more babies who will thrive under all your love and skill. At least that poor baby blackbird had comfort and warmth at the end. Mother Nature loves the way you work with her – look at your pretty garden!

    • Snow Bird
      April 24, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      I hope you are right Gill, no doubt hundreds more will be cared for and survive….and maybe I’ll lose some more, hopefully not two the same morning though! I really did have a charmed run, no-one else had a record like that. Ahhhh…thanks for your lovely

  9. April 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Wishing you lots of luck with your remaining chick, they are all so lucky to have you looking after them.
    Your garden is looking fantastic, your border is really beautiful, very springlike!
    Max is one lucky macaw, a nice ending for your post.

    • Snow Bird
      April 30, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Thanks Pauline, gardens are an endless work in progress for sure! It was great knowing that Max is back where he belongs and in a good home, I wish I could have witnessed the

  10. April 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Condolences on your chicks. I hope the second moorhen survives. You are showin ggreat ingenuity in tending to their needs – though how does your husband feel about his hat being converted to a nest? That patch of Tulips is absolutely beautiful!

    • Snow Bird
      April 30, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks Jason. Sadly the second moorhen chick died a day later, they were simply far too young, they needed their mother. Poor hubs….his hat has gone forever, I did tell him I’d used it and he just raised a resigned eyebrow. Those tulips have been fantastic, I’ve never known any last as long as they have, they still hang on in there as I type!xxx

  11. Kitty
    April 24, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Oh, Dina, you worked so very hard to invite those sweet babies to thrive, but I truly believe the best thing you did was to be present and loving, so no failure at all; everyone should have someone like you present when they’re changing worlds…and I know you believe every living thing matters and deserves love. I hope the mouse is grateful enough to eat the birdseed and leave your planted seeds alone.

    The gardens look so amazing! I’ve just started weeding and am so encouraged by all the beauty you’ve created, Dina. Your yard is just a glorious place to be, even vicariously. Thank you!

    I’ll bet Sam was trying to pick you a bouquet and couldn’t get them long enough, so just ate the tulips out of frustration. Right?

    Those little ducklings look precious; we have several beside the river this year, too. It’s fun to watch them head out behind their mama and paddle their little orange feet to beat the band. πŸ™‚

    I always love seeing your face-painting creations: I hope the fete raised some lovely funds for you!

    Blessings on your sweet heart and all the good you do, and beauty you create.

    • Snow Bird
      April 30, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      I have to say that I felt as though I tortured those poor creatures…..sadly the second chick died a day later. They were simply too young and needed their mum. Changing worlds? What a comforting thought, and something you are well used too, I know when it’s time to let a creature be and make it as comfortable as possible, and leave it in peace……I think you are being far too kind though, as usual….bless your little cotton socks!
      Good to hear you are weeding, your spring must have burst forth, I do miss seeing and hearing about Full Moon…the enchanted home and garden….I’m wondering about your fox and her kits in your meadow amongst other things….all my love to all of you.xxxxxxx

      • Kitty
        May 8, 2017 at 5:59 pm

        My sweet fox moved to a further home as spring approached. I think there were too many travelers on the trail, near the den on our hill. I’ve seen her passing through, though. Many turkeys, but no babies spotted yet, HUGE bunnies this year, and bird nests everywhere in the trees, on top of every outdoor light and even in an old gas grill we were getting ready to donate… πŸ™‚ Gardens survived a light freeze last night, so whew! Lost one rosebush this winter, though. Disappointing.

        Spending hours in the gardens right now, and loving it. πŸ™‚

        Love you, too! Gentle Peace, K

        • Snow Bird
          May 12, 2017 at 10:24 pm

          Oh, sorry to hear you lost a rose, but lovely to catch up on all Full Moon activity! I had a robin nest in our BBQ one year, it followed up the second year too so no grilling! Lovely to hear you are gardening, the weather must be lovely round about now. I can just imagine all your spring bulbs, maybe going over now. The seeds you sent, seem to be coming up! I see them and think of you, hopefully both will flower this year. Love and hugs…

  12. April 24, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    So sorry to read about the chicks, although good news that the third one survived.

    This seems a very busy time of year for you with lots going on at the rescue, and the fundraisers. That Pick a Prickle game sounds a wonderful idea.

    Your garden is looking good, especially love those colourful tulips.

    Enjoy the rest of your week … keep warm … snow is forecast for Northern Regions of the UK … and we are almost in May! Ridiculous weather!

    All the best Jan

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks Jan, sadly the third chick died a day later, just too young. Pick a prickle did really well, we’ll have to run that one again. Snow?!?…oh no!!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that that doesn’t come off. xx

  13. April 25, 2017 at 1:11 am

    You were amazing keeping those little chicks alive for as long as you did, very inventive with tweezers and black gloves, not to mention hub’s hat…hope it wasn’t his favourite. We had baby chickens when I was little, and it is very hard seeing little chicks not surviving, but it is incredible that you have saved so many…….what a lot of good you are doing!
    We could never put our Cockatoos together with Sam, there would be no tulips left!
    I’m so pleased to hear about Max and his owner being reunited. I can just imagine the attachment Max would have to his owner. The animal world is so full of drama and emotion!
    The garden is looking lovely, blossoms everywhere!

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Ahhh, thanks Gerrie, I did the best I could but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. Poor hubs, he often loses gloves and such, he’s actually resigned to it!
      Totally agree about Sam and the cockatoos! I think Sam thinks they are fruit as he loves eating strawberries and loganberries.
      I would have loved to see Max being reunited with his owner, the girls were all thrilled to see him so

  14. April 25, 2017 at 1:41 am

    You must have felt very helpless trying to keep those stressed little ones alive. I’m happy that one of the moorhens has survived this far. You have done a wonderful job on your garden. It’s looking lush and happy. As for the mouse. At least it’s not in your car!! After our marauding chipmunk, I heartily sympathize with your mouse-induced craziness. Good luck.

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Helpless is exactly how I felt, it’s so frustrating seeing them fade in front of your eyes. Unfortunately, the third chick died a day later. Such a shame.
      Oh….yes, at least the mouse was in the greenhouse!! Plastic lids should solve the problem next year and a total clear out! Thanks

  15. April 25, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Such a lot going on….where to start:

    You’ve been giving cracking ITU support to vulnerable tiny creatures. It is sad when nature supercedes all efforts.

    I was very taken with the pix of your botanic garden. I couldn’t believe just how much blossoming and ongoing growth you have. A lot of work has gone into the floral display. We’ve nothing like it yet. The last two days it has been snowing and sleeting, I’m not sure, therefore, whether there’ll be anything similar here in a few weeks, either.

    A nuisance and rogue mouse in the greenhouse is paradoxical.


    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks Menhir, nature will have her way I suppose, despite our best attempts.
      Snow and sleet??? Oh my, that’s not good, at all! You deserve a little warmth and blossom, it sounds like you are a good month behind us. I hope it brightens up soon, lousy weather gets old, fast!!!
      I have a greenhouse frog, that can stay as it eats the slugs, but that mouse will be evicted once autumn comes and I have a good clear

  16. April 26, 2017 at 6:30 am

    The feeling deep in your heart, of loss, is awful. You did all you could, with love and caring competencies. I guess there is something attached to each living creature, not only fate, but becouse of something even greater.
    Yesterday night, I was out to save frogs&tods… water was pooring down and usually this is the weather in which the anfibeans move around. At the beginning around 8:30 PM, none was to be seein. I was able to catch 5 or 6 until 11:00 PM… and than, suddenly, when I was about to leave… there they were! I was alone and patrolled by feet around 500 m of critical space. I had to take the car to be able to do more, I saved few, but under my eyes a couple of thinny frogs were smashed over the street by cars driving without attention. The drivers saw me, I signaled with the flashlight, but they didn’t give a damn. It was frustating. I was too angry to cry realizing that you can’t do anything to change the elapsing of actions and reactions. It’s life itself, we walk along our path, sometime we’re running, other we’re taking a good look around, sometime with joy, others with deep frustration.
    But what really counts is the good action, made with love and dedication. Tonight, I will go again to save frogs&tods. Hugs, dear Dina :-)c

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Yes, it is awful when you lose a creature despite your best attempts. I just have to focus on those I can help I suppose.
      Hearing about people running over frogs and toads is disgusting, why would anyone do such a thing??? I’m so glad you are out there helping them and rescuing so many. Bless you, you’re an angel. Huge hugs to you!xxx

  17. April 26, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Great post and images. Back to routine again? You must have heaps pf patience.

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks Peter. Yes, it’s onwards and upwards!xxx

  18. April 26, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    What a bitter shame that your hard work with the chicks didn’t pay off but at least you have one success story. As things go, you’ve done brilliantly so far thanks to your skill and determination to nurture wildlife. Your front border looks so lovely, you should be very proud of all the work you did to get it there! Mice do love a nibble don’t they – and they’ll need somewhere warm over the next few nights by the sound of things! xx

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks Caro, it was a damn shame, it’s pretty horrible watching such tiny creatures fade away. Nature can be cruel.
      I am pleased with the front border, the soil is still poor so getting anything to grow there is a battle. Good to see a little colour instead of the old green hedges too, also better for wildlife.
      I am beginning to suspect that the mouse has babies in the greenhouse….sighs…xxx

      • May 2, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        I had “a” mouse in my flat a couple of years ago and was told there’s rarely only one! A friend had mice in her greenhouse as she stored saved seed in huge trays there. She realised what was going on when the seed was scattered over the floor and workbench! Do you add mulch to your border in the autumn? The soil will gradually improve if you do. My plot neighbour adds barrow loads to his veg bed every autumn and has the most beautiful soil compared to those who don’t and are still digging away in clay! xx

        • Snow Bird
          May 3, 2017 at 9:26 pm

          I think you are right about there being more than one mouse! Come autumn I’ll have them out! I have mulched the soil twice a year and it is improving, there are still lots of hedge roots in the ground, I think once they rot down the soil will recover. To date I’ve lost a lot of shrubs in that border but slowly some are thriving there. I always add mulch to my veggie patch, the soil is getting better there too. Our soil is so very sandy, great for free draining plants and herbs but not for many

  19. April 29, 2017 at 10:45 am

    So sorry to hear about the moorhen chicks, but I can imagine the sadness when creatures so fragile and stressed don’t survive and you can only keep them comfortable as you watch them get weaker. Good news about the macaw and your garden areas are looking good. Take care xx

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Thanks Linda, it’s so sad isn’t it? If only it was straight forward with all these tiny babies. I was so pleased hearing that the parrot found his owner, he certainly wasn’t happy with

  20. April 30, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    You’re such a dedicated nurse and advocate. It surely had to be a wrenching experience to go through. On the other hand, a wildlife rehabber I know often reminds people that nature knows best. The loss of the weak ones strengthens the group: at least, when it’s nature that’s doing the balancing.

    Of course, when human activity causes injury, or unnatural circumstances lead a creature to grief, that’s where we — you! — come in. You’re so skilled, and your record at saving the little ones attests to that. People who want to save the world often misunderstand how it’s done, and become discouraged. It’s true that we can’t save the entire world with one grand gesture, but we can save the world one creature at a time.

    • Snow Bird
      May 1, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Nature does know best, often birds abandon their offspring when they are disabled, it makes sense in the natural world
      Unfortunately people often panic and bring wildlife into the rescue when their parents are still around, usually because a cat ….if only they could watch and observe or call us first, then, so many situations like this could be avoided. Thanks for your lovely

  21. May 7, 2017 at 10:01 am

    My dear Dina…you have the patience of a saint….you really do….and as awful as it must have been to lose little creatures that you are nurturing so well… couldn’t do one more thing. The dogs are looking supremely healthy…and I might add your garden looks fab.
    Having just returned from Portugal….I am now catching up…something of course that we never ever do!:) I am giving two courses next year….I do think that it’s a place you would love….thought of you when there.
    Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend…Janet πŸ™‚ xxx

  22. Snow Bird
    May 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks Janet, it’s always hard to watch a creature so young die so slowly despite giving it your best. I would love to go to Portugal with you…..if I can I certainly will. What fun we would have. You will have to visit me and meet all the creatures…hopefully this summer. You are more than welcome to stay

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