Take Me Too!
Adventures of a Volunteer, By Amy Sanders
July 30, 2020, I was sitting in my studio painting. Caring for my extremely old dog has occupied much of my time of late, and I had bowed out of field rescue for a bit when she became fearful of me leaving her side. Fearful in the extreme I might add, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, she has been put on a new medication and is doing much better with that. But then, I was sporting a sore ankle, so I hadn’t put myself back on the list. As is often the case however, the universe had other plans for me this day.
So, sitting with my beloved dog at my feet, the phone rings and its Kate at Wild Care. Yes, she knows I’m not on the rescue list right now, but Peter, dear Peter who has been taking all the Outer Cape rescues, is really being overworked (her words I’m guessing and not his), and would I possibly be available for an injured gull (a mere 4 miles away from me)? “Well, I can’t walk too well,” I say, but she responds in her uniquely gentle voice, “Its only a transport, but…” and I felt compelled to say yes, of course, before she can finish her sentence. I’m such a sap for animals.
So, the antique dog goes next door for care while I’m gone, and I limp to my car. Only a transport.
I drive the 4 miles to Ballston Beach, and no one is in sight with an injured bird. So I ask the parking lot attendants. After a bit of puzzling and phone calls about who might have the bird we discover its the mobile EMTs I didn’t know Truro had, who left when they had no signal for me to respond saying I was coming. So they call the beach office, who calls the Fire Department, who calls the mobile EMTs who say yes, they have it and will return to Ballston. I drive my car to the entrance, park illegally, but fortunately only have to wait a couple of minutes before a gal appears with a badly injured gull wrapped in a towel. I secure him in my big plastic tub, and I’m ready to go.
But this story is not about that bird, believe it or not.
As I’m driving out of the lot, and another car is driving in, in a narrow section, another large black-backed gull walks out from between two parked cars and positions himself in such a way as neither car can proceed. I’m a bit puzzled by this so I nudge my car forward to encourage him to move. No dice. I lean out the window and holler at him. The gal in the other car yells to me, “What’s the matter with that gull?!”
“I have no clue,” I say, “but I’m here for Wild Care picking up another injured bird so I’ll check on him,” I continue as I get out of my car. He doesn’t budge. I get up close and gently nudge his back with my foot. He walks fine, but only circles about. He doesn’t leave. He looks fine, but it is never a good sign when you can touch a seagull.
So, now what? I have one sheet, and one container both of which are in use. But this bird is looking right at me in the oddest, almost pleading, way. I don’t have food. Nevertheless, he is adamant he is not leaving so I know something is wrong.
I’m flying by the seat of my pants now. Hmm. I clearly need something to get him with. I go to the back of my car and unhappily bother the gull I already have to get the sheet he’s on (“So sorry buddy!”). I grab my gloves and walk back to my troubled friend milling about stopping traffic in all directions. I picked him up with the sheet, with no difficulty whatsoever (very bad sign). The only protest I get is the repeated effort to gently bite my hands, but no struggle to get down.
Now what? I have no container. So I ask the parking attendants if they have a box. No. Anyone in any of the stopped cars have a box? No. Can’t put two gulls together. So, my only option is to take my troubled friend, set him in my lap (still in his sheet, still nipping at my gloved hand), and drive to a store or somewhere someone might have a box.
Fortunately for me, he quiets down, so other than driving with only one hand, its really not too tough, but I don’t want to drive the half hour to Wild Care this way. I stop at Jams (Truro center), but no one is outside, and well, one cannot walk into a grocery with a seagull. So I’m off again to the Truro dump. Can’t find a soul there, and the recycling area for boxes is neat as a pin of course with not a single box to be seen.
I ended up calling a friend to bring a container—any container—and agreeing on a meeting place less than 1/4 mile away. I drive there and wait.
One of the things I really love about Truro, is how caring people are for one another. While I’m waiting, another neighbor goes by, sees me, and stops to be sure I’m ok (not every day you see someone by the side of the highway holding an unidentified object in a sheet). Alas he didn’t have a container but he stayed with me to keep my company until my other friend came. Then, I piled my troublesome avian pal into the second container, stuffed my glove into the edge of the lid, duct taped it down (standard for an awake seabird) and was off to Wild Care.
Interestingly, my troubled pal who sat so quietly in my lap, was most definitely not a happy camper in a container. He pounded and fussed back there the whole way. I kept bouncing in my mind between knowing if you can pick up a gull it needs to be checked out, and wondering if there was any way I’d kidnapped a healthy bird who was now very unhappy. Clearly he seemed to want to be picked up, but lap seemed more his speed than box.
Alas, at Wild Care, Leah assured me that if I could get him by simply picking him up, I made the right decision, and in fact upon examination she did find him to be badly injured. What I know beyond that (volunteer rescuers don’t often hear how the animals they bring in fare, especially in Covid times where we can’t enter the building) is that he had a fishing hook lodged in his throat, so he was going to be checked in for some health care. I am optimistic that he will be fine as I was able to secure him before he became more seriously weakened. All because he stopped traffic, and said, “Take me too, please?”
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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!