Seagull is a dove/pigeon that was visiting my garden in the summer. I'm not sure when I first noticed him but he is quite distinctive as you can see from the photo - with markings that reminded me of a gull.
One day he was sitting on the hedge where the food pans are and didn't fly away as I came in the gate. This is unusual for all of the doves, except my Lily. None of them, except her, are that tame. Doves are easily frightened, jumpy creatures; they know they are prey instinctively and are always watching out.
I observed Seagull for a while, and took photos. He looked ok but after a while I realised was doing something peculiar with his neck. twisting it round and round. When I discovered that he couldn't fly properly I trapped him with my dove net (a medium sized pond net) and put him in my small dog's car carry box as a 'hospital' - with food and water of course.
Every day, for a week, I put him, in the box, out on the hedge so he would get light and air and be able to see the other doves, and at dusk I put him on a shelf in the shed to keep him safe. Every time I cleaned out the box I saw he wasn't getting any better and was concerned as to what to do for the best. My vet is the old one I had before I moved here and is not an avian vet.
It was suggested to me that I took him to a local wildlife aid centre and this seemed a good plan. I took him in the dog's box, which was of course returned to me, and I took a bag of feed with me in case they didn't have anything suitable. This aid centre is the only one in Surrey, and situated fairly near me in Leatherhead. According to their leaflet,they deal with 20,000 wildlife incidents a year and rely on volunteers and donations.
Find them at www.wildlifeaid.com
Seagull was taken in and given a patient number and I duly paid my donation. I was told to ring in a couple of days to see how he was doing. When I did this I was told he was still alive, but had an infectious complaint and was in quarantine. I rang again a week later and was told the same thing. I asked the woman on the phone what the complaint was and she said she didn't know, she hadn't looked at the notes, just checked he was still alive! Calls are made on a premium line and my last call cost £6 so I have decided it would be cheaper and more productive to drive up to the centre; especially as now (13.10.07) I have another dove (pure white this time) exhibiting the same symptoms. The new dove I will call Blanche.
Only 4 of this flock are mine (John, Lily, Francis and Iona) and only 2 'home' here (John & Lily)so I don't know what I shall do if they all go down with it. I'm hoping that I will be able to see a vet at the centre and see what I can do to prevent the spread of this disease. As all the doves are free to go where they please I am not sure how much I will be able to do. I think it will be a question of survival of the fittest.
I intend to take Blanche up to the wildlife aid centre today (it is open 7 days a week) - with a letter for the vet in case I don't see one. I will update the blog in due course.
All other doves seem well, but we currently have several staying the night, just roosting on the roof, and telegraph pole. John and Lily roost in the dovecote of course. We wondered if the others have been rejected by the main feral flock, or perhaps want to stay the night so they get early and reliable breakfast!