Keep abreast of chim­neys

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

IF you hear scratch­ing at the back of your fire­place and it’s not Christ­mas, then you know it’s not Santa Claus.

Alan Cairns heard noises com­ing from his chim­ney breast over a pe­riod of four days be­fore reach­ing for his screw­driver.

He said: “I re­moved the fire and the pack­ing which was seal­ing the flue only to wit­ness a crow come crash­ing to the ground.

“It was weak, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. How­ever I gave it wa­ter and re­leased it on to the lawn, where it scoffed all the food which I pro­vided.

“Ini­tially it tried to fly but was too weak. Af­ter a cou­ple of hours it did man­age to sit on the fence and then even­tu­ally dis­ap­peared into a neigh­bour­ing gar­den. Fin­ger crossed he made a full re­cov­ery.”

Alan’s timely in­ter­ven­tion will surely have saved the skin of this par­tic­u­lar car­rion crow, which will have joined his hun­dreds of thou­sands of broth­ers and sis­ters in the Bri­tish coun­try­side.

I have re­cently re­turned from a hol­i­day in Ire­land, where I never saw a sin­gle car­rion crow, which is pic­tured. The crows through­out much of Ire­land are the hooded va­ri­ety, which have black heads, tails and wings, but grey bod­ies.

If you’ve taken a Con­ti­nen­tal hol­i­day lately, or even been to Scot­land, you’ve prob­a­bly seen more than a few hooded crows.

Any­way, back to chim­neys, and I can re­mem­ber read­ing a cou­ple of years ago about a fam­ily from Scar­bor­ough who found a tawny owl stuck be­hind their fire­place.

It took some time to catch the owl but once cap­tured it was docile and could be lib­er­ated with­out spread­ing soot all over the room.

I’ve also read on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions of peo­ple re­leas­ing grey squir­rels from their chim­neys.

The bonus is that the crea­tures which find them­selves stuck are usu­ally trau­ma­tised by the time they are freed and can be safely re­leased with­out the res­cuers los­ing a few pieces of skin in the process.

Which re­minds of a story which I once was despatched to cover as a cub reporter, when some­body had found a docile baby red squir­rel in Cas­tle Eden Dene and taken it home.

When I ar­rived in the house the said crea­ture had re­verted to an ex­tremely wild state, avoid­ing all at­tempts at re­cap­ture, rac­ing around the room out of reach and rip­ping both cur­tains and wall­pa­per to shreds in the process.

So if you find a crow, or any other crea­ture, be­hind your fire, don’t leave it in the liv­ing room!

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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