So after my tired post of last week, I seem to have found something of a second wind. Which is odd considering that I’ve been working longer days and been much busier. We’ve gone to winter hours which means we’re open from 8 am to 5 pm rather than from 8 am to 8 pm. What this means for me is that rather than working 7-5.30, I get to sleep in a half hour and work from 7.30-6. But what this also means is that the staff has been dramatically cut, and instead of the usual two rehabbers and one or two seasonals above me (experience and chain-of-command wise) it’s been one lone rehabber, a number of volunteers, and myself. And for some reason, we’ve had an influx of difficult animals, and some bad luck with some of the ones who are already there. So instead of leaving at 6 pm, Carey (the rehabber) has had to stay until about 8 for the past two days and I have stayed to help her.
What makes this new situation both scary and cool is that it’s forcing me to take on responsibilities I never had to when there was a buffer of people with more experience than myself. It’s making me realize how much I have learned, and how many skills I’ve acquired without even realizing it. For example, one skill I have found really hard to master so far has been administering fluids subcutaneously (under the skin) on birds (it’s easier on mammals). But tonight we had a European starling that needed fluids and there was no one to take over for me so I had to fly by the seat of my pants. And I did it. I found the right spot, slid the needle in and got all the fluids in. Never mind that I had to call Carey to help with the pigeon and the Cedar waxwing, both more difficult cases. The starling couldn’t have gone more perfectly, and it was the first time that I felt confident doing that particular task. (I like to think it was because he knew I lived in his homeland. ;))
I’m also getting to experience a lot of things that I couldn’t when it was busier and when there was more staff. I got to watch the vet and vet tech anesthetize and suture a Band-tailed pigeon with some serious lacerations. I also got to help out with some animals that are usually staff only. For example, I now get to feed the Anna’s hummingbird – just a matter of making nectar and hanging up syringes for him, but I get to watch him for a few minutes while I do that, which is pretty darned cool. Today I helped administer fluids to a harbor seal (I squeezed the bag), brought food to the deer pen (although I’ve yet to see the deer), and even got to handle the baby cottontails. I just moved them from their aquarium to a carrier, but it was the first time since I’ve been here that I was even allowed to see the bunnies (a very high-stress species), so it was still pretty cool.
So while the past couple of days have been longer, they have been anything but boring, and I feel like I’m hitting my second wind over here. I’m starting to get sad that this internship is coming to an end so soon. For as tiring as it can be, it can also be a thrill ride. Plus… baby bunnies. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
Two of the highlights of my television-watching year are Springwatch and Autumnwatch on the BBC. These annually-broadcast, live series follow the fortunes of many different species of British wildlife (the majority of which are also native to this area of Europe) through the turbulent changes of spring and autumn. Up until this year, they’ve always been hosted by Kate Humble and the inimitable Bill Oddie: a charming curmudgeon and a keen amateur naturalist. So I was surprised this May to tune in to the first episode to hear that, due to health issues, Bill Oddie would not be presenting this year. He had been replaced by Chris Packham. Packham did a fine job; he’s just as keen and knowledgable when it comes to nature, and he has his own brand of charming eccentricity, but I still missed Bill.
I was saddened but not surprised to read that his absence was a result of clinical depression, which he’s apparently been dealing with most of his life. This debilitating disorder has affected the lives of many of the highly intelligent and sensitive people in my ken, and Mr. Oddie is clearly both intelligent and sensitive.
Bill Oddie is not a bad birdwatcher. He is, in fact, an excellent birdwatcher. But like a bad birdwatcher, he appreciates the beauty of the everyday. Here’s my favorite Bill Oddie moment, and one of my favorite videos ever. It’s truly magical, and worth a viewing even if you’re not that interested in birds. And Mr. Oddie, wherever you are, I wish you all the best. I hope you’re on the road to recovery soon.