Whispering Smith on barn owls and parking tickets…

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April 11, 2013 by Whispering Smith

Published in the Littlehampton Gazette on April 4th 2013

ONE WINTER’S morning you are driving over the busy Long Furlong near Clapham and you spot a despondent looking barn owl sitting beside the road, what do you do? Well, if you are a friend of mine, you do what he did, he stopped and gave it a lift. The bird chirped a little chirp, offered no resistance and settled quietly on his finger. Back in the car, his wife took charge of the bird while he drove them on to  Grove Lodge for a check-up, only the bird that is, not his wife! The vetenarian told them that the owl was extremely  weak and thin probably due to the long, bad winter and poor hunting conditions and was, sadly, unlikely to survive. They gave it some TLC and passed it onto WADERS who said and did much the same before passing it on for some more specialised  RR at Chichester’s Brent Lodge Bird and Wildlife Trust charity. There it was hand fed, warmed up in an incubator and nursed for several days gradually showing signs of improvement. Now able to feed itself, flexing its muscles and, with time off for good behaviour, Barny is to be released back into the wild one healthy owl. Point here is that my friend, Grove Lodge, WADERS and Brent Lodge never stopped trying, they all pulled wonderfully together to save this one little critter, no bureaucracy, no question of money, no problem. If you love birds and animals as much as do I, it was a delightful outcome and I would ask that whenever a local wild animal charity asks for your support think of Barny somewhere out there swooping along the hedgerows, that ghostly bird, that magical eidolon you very occasionally hear or, if you are exceptionally lucky, see hunting the moonlit evening fields so close to LA.

APRIL ONE, first day of the summer parking restrictions and council wardens were out bright and early merrily slapping parking fines on car windscreens where a simple reminder would have done the job. Exactly the  same procedure as last year with no warning to the overnight locals. Another well thought through cynical money raising exercise by the ADC to win the hearts and minds of the local populace! They really are in need of a PR person although what a thankless job that would be?

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