Keep abreast of chimneys
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 firstname.lastname@example.org