Ernie and I share a little bit of history (I rescued him many years ago after he was savaged by someone’s pet dog and managed to get him all fixed up….except that he was left with a fairly debilitating limp and it’s the damage caused to his leg in the dog incident which has now developed the arthritis.
The picture shows Ernie moments after collapsing in the middle of a fairly busy little road and while his long-time mate, Erica, had the good sense to continue leading her entourage safely across the tarmac, poor old Eric seemed unable to regain his feet. By this time, one or two drivers had edged their vehicles alarmingly close to the prostrate Swan in order to squeeze by and then driven on, so I decided to lend Eric a hand.
Wary of both Erica’s and Ernie’s possible negative reaction, I instructed Tess to “sit off” and approached Ernie very slowly. Thankfully, I’m well known to both Swans and neither reacted as I bent down to lift Ernie gently up in my arms to get a better look at his leg. This is one advantage of getting to know Swans quite well over a long period of time, visiting them often and doling out the occasional handful of Duck’n’Swan food every now and then. They soon recognise you as a positive in their lives and eventually learn to trust you. Plus, I also believe that Ernie remembers me as the human who helped him all those years ago.
Anyway, Ernie’s leg was fairly swollen, partly because of the arthritis, but also because his ID leg ring had become far too tight because of the arthritic swelling and was beginning to cut into the flesh. Fortunately, I always carry a small pair of wire-cutters on me for cutting up snares and the like set by poacher’s and gamekeepers and was able to snip the offending metal band away from the leg. I sensed the instant relief that Ernie must have felt as the pressure was released, but also decided to add a spot of antiseptic gel (I also carry a small first aid kit) to the wound before carrying the ‘patient’ back to his family.
Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coming summer might well be Ernie’s last. I think another long winter might prove too much for him, but, then again, Ernie’s a tough old bird and he just might be with us for a good while yet.