Thursday, 23 April 2009

Swan Song

A hissing double armful of feathers and glaring eyes owned by the Mute Swan was carried in by the collections driver. “Where do you want him, isolation?” Usually we put wildlife down there as it is quiet and away from the bustle.

“Did he look injured or what” l asked.

“Dunno” was the helpful reply. “He seems happy enough he landed in a ladies garden. A group of idiots was giving me a load of mouth so l made sure that his head, hissing and glaring at them over the gate, was the first thing they saw when l went out. After that all l heard was **** **** that thing has rabies and they legged it” This last comment of his was delivered with an evil smirk.

To be fair swans can be daunting, they are big, hissy birds, especially when they stand up tall and flap their wings. They are not a bird to handle unless you are confident. If you do need to move them a short distance hold their necks, just below their heads they are generally fine, you can aim them in a direction by turning their head and push them gently on their bodies. Sometimes have to get hold of their body/wings with the other arm as they may get upset and wing you. If they do peck or clobber you with their wings then it can hurt.
For longer moves they need carrying. RSPCA and RSPB have fancy swan bags with zips and handles, us poor folks have to make do with arms only. As swans get heavier and you release their neck hold to get a double armful of slipping body and kicking feet they twist round and depending on their mood, glare into your eyes or peck you where ever they know it will hurt you most.

I gave the swan a quick once over, there was nothing obvious. And thankfully no swan feather mites, well I’m told that is what they are. Grey, about the size of peas that have been on steroids and they stalk well slide with a bolshie strut on their multiple legs in and out around the feathers, usually around where your arm would go and daring you to grab the swan.

The vet grunted from the desk where he was writing up notes “Put him on the floor here in prep we can see how he’s walking”

Once placed on the floor the swan drew himself up, flapped his wings to settle his feathers and disrupt dust and paperwork which all went flying around in the wind, then he hissed at us, shook his head at the state of the place. Never mind that he caused it with wing wind, and went for a walk.

Dog ward door was closed so he peeked into the laundry room, and withdrew fast, good move there was a tottering pile of blankets in there ready to fall on him.
Small furries ward (rabbit, ferret, guinea pigs, birds etc) and combined bedding storage had a close inspection, luckily no patients in. He was about to climb onto bedding that was being folded so I quickly shoopered him out. Swans have big gloopy faeces that splat and l did not want clean bedding messed up. The look the auxiliary gave me warned l would be in a worse state than the bedding.
Swanny hissed at me but followed the direction l was turning his head and shoving his bum and walked out the door and back towards the sink in medical prep. I was about to take him down to iso. when he settled down, stuck his head under his wing and went to sleep.

This stumped me swans never do this they stalk about, hiss, shit, and if you annoy them peck or wallop you with their wings. I looked round for some ideas and the consensus was he is quiet and well behaved leave him be, let’s see what happens. So l got him some food and water which he ignored and we carried on with work.

He was very comfy, ignored all the patients that passed him, looking in amazement at the strange headless feathery thing “thing”. We had to climb over him to get to the sink and all he did was sleep or open an eye and then snooze again, unreal. Finally after about 4 hours l had to shift him, I needed to wash a cat, it had some gunk on it and Swanny was just too much in the way.

I tried to push him backwards a bit but he got annoyed and went for a walk, back to small furries and settled down between the bedding store and kennels by the 2nd door. I stuck a warning note for no entry so he did not get squashed and we left him.
Apparently he was finally moved and placed into a walk in kennel in dog ward at about 7am just before day shift all started to trip in.

He was released at a suitable swan take off pond later in the day and flew off, quite happy after a good nights sleep.

What did you wake me up for?


Constable said...

Oh god, that's brilliant.

Thank You so much. A good nights sleep can work wonders I have heard.


powdergirl said...

What a sweet post!. I get quite hissy when I'm tired as well,

Dave the Dog said...

"thankfully no swan feather mites, well I’m told that is what they are. Grey, about the size of peas that have been on steroids and they stalk well slide with a bolshie strut on their multiple legs in and out around the feathers, usually around where your arm would go and daring you to grab the swan."
Ugh, flat flies, shudder. I hate them, disgusting creatures. Slither in and out of the feather and under your clothing at the first opportunity. (Runs away screaching! Very unmanly) ;o)

Vetnurse said...

YUP thats them thanks Dave. The nearest l can find to the ones l have seen are the big swift ones. Not run away yet l do know a lot of nurses that won't handle swans though but think it is a combination of big bird and thought of flat flies.

staghounds said...

I have been beaten up by swans as well, it is no day at the lake.

No, wait, it WAS a day at the lake, but...

captcha word PURIL. Just perfect. Even the random letter generator knows I'm childish.

Vetnurse said...

:-)) @ Staghounds. Have to say so far any of my "battles" with swans have thankfully been on land and so dry, well apart from bowls of water being flipped over.