Another great guest post from Sarah Higgins
Waddlesworth is still with us and is worth his weight in gold for all the chuckles he gives us. He spends his days mucking about in the garden, pulling the flowers off my plants and annoying the tortoises by attempting to catch their heads whilst they are trying to eat. When he is feeling really adventurous he gallops (a pelican’s ungainly version thereof) down the lawn and into the air for a quick spin round the bay, but making sure that he is always back in time for ‘lunch’! Then a post-lunch snooze, some more rotting-up of the tortoises and guddling in his little pond and then it is food time again!
He has just recovered from (according to him) a very serious injury! He came in a couple of weeks ago and claimed that he was totally unable to walk. He refused his fish and just lay there with his foot off the ground and was even trying to keep his wing away from the foot. We couldn’t find anything wrong with him bar a little cut on the bottom of his paddle but after a couple of days of this we decided that we were going to have to call the vet. The vet couldn’t find anything that could cause this serious inability to even put his foot to the ground but suggested all sorts of things that we could do to try and help the bird. After day three both Sammy (Waddlesworth’s keeper/mum!) and I had decided that all that was wrong with him really was that small cut on the bottom of his paddle, after all pelicans are renown for getting stressed over the silliest things! So we just continued to carry him out into the sun in the mornings and carry him back to his favourite sleeping spot in the evenings and forced fish down his throat at meal times and ‘Hey presto’ after five days he could walk (with a dramatic limp) and by day seven had forgotten all about it and was cured! It is silly enough that we have a pelican living with us but to have a hypochondriac pelican – well!
He is still showing absolutely no sign of leaving home, I suppose that life must just be too comfortable for him. Perhaps if I cut his food a bit he might think about going and looking for his own, but somehow I doubt it and anyway, with the lake so low, there are not that many fish available for hungry pelicans!
He often amuses himself by trying to catch butterflies but the other day he snapped at a hornet, which naturally didn’t take too kindly to this and stung him in his pouch. I looked up from my lunch just in time to see him open his beak with a squawk and the offended hornet fly out and away. Then there was a great deal of shaking out of the pouch trying to get rid of the nasty pain, poor fellow. You should have seen the swelling that had come up by evening, it was really quite impressive, but by next day all was okay again. I just hope that he learned from that but I doubt it. He still tries to catch butterflies!
Waddles has recently taken to having his bath in the bird bath and, as you can see, it is a perfect fit! Which of course means that he doesn’t get very much of himself wet during the wash, particularly as he has usually spent some time prior to his ablutions using his bill and pouch to scoop most of the water out of the bath! It amuses him to watch the water flow over the edge and then try to catch it on the way down!
Rosy does not seem to have made any progress with his ability to see. We watch him closely and grasp at every little sign that his sight might be improving but I regret to say I am beginning to give up hope a little. He can see something so the operations were not totally wasted, and can certainly see enough to get round his ‘palace’ on foot and be able to hop up onto his perches. He seems to see much better in poorer light (he has trouble when it is very bright), so these rainy days that we have been having over the past few months have definitely been good for him. He can detect movement in the grass and makes a very good attempt at pouncing on things but if the movement is too fast he can’t follow it and Girl then takes over. Despite this they both seem happy and call often so although the lack of sight seems to have put a stop to the breeding programme they both appear to be content with their lot and are both in very good health.