Today I am recovering. This happens to me a lot nowadays, We cats have to take time out after some of our exploits. This is a process of recharging the batteries after some over exuberant aerobics. Yesterday I was moving with the speed of light, dancing like a butterfly, stinging like a bee … and today I resemble a sloth on half speed.
I enjoy little moments of extreme exploration whereby I can vault up onto the oil tank from where I can deftly span the gap between this and the house and so climb upwards towards the ridge. This is an exciting moment, and I then take up a spate of free-running along the ridgeline chasing unsuspecting starlings. These guys are real stupid.
Recently I had a sublime moment of living life as nature intended, stalking an elusive starling that had chosen to sit atop the chimney. I enjoy these early morning, dawn arising, stealth patrols, they keep me sharp and in tune with the environment. I had ascended the roof by means of the oil tank and the little cute starling was sitting there with his back to me, unaware of my approach. I shuffled along the ridge flat on my belly, SAS style, and crept up behind him. The silly article was tweeting away big time, so helping to drown out any noises I may have made as I grew closer and closer. I did have one slightly dangerous moment, when I was momentarily distracted by a low flying fat pigeon who turned and dive-bombed in an attempt to dislodge me from my flattened ridge position. He very nearly succeeded too, as I made a quick swipe at him as he screamed past and missed and toppled over the ridge, but I grabbed out with both paws and dug in with my claws and managed to hold on. He’s on my list of ‘take-outs’ now … I’ll remember him too; fat, grey with a hint of purple and one red eye. His days are numbered.
I have to confess, I am not the most successful predator, having so far in my long life managed to catch just one very small rabbit, which I didn’t have the heart to kill, and just slipped him into the utility room for a bit of fun one day. Dear God, the mass hysteria that caused! Speak about being useless; humans just don’t seem to be able to get it together when small rodents invade their space. For crying out loud they’re a hundred times their size, but they jump about and stamp the ground and scream and shout, none of which does any good. Why they don’t just bend down and pick the little devils up with their teeth, give it a couple of vicious shakes and it would all be over, but no they get cardboard boxes and brooms and run around trying to sweep them up or bash them over the head. It never works and they generally smash something or other or break windows. Still, it’s great to watch and a just proves that we cats are the Supreme Being.
Anyhow back to the ridge, smarty pants starling is still there singing his heart out on the chimney top, I am now within inches of him and coil myself into the athletic form I am and lean back and leap …… maybe my timing was a tad off, or possibly he had got wind of my approach, but in the half light of the morning I didn’t quite notice the wire stay which supports the metal chimney, and I catapulted into that which sent a loud ‘Twang’ through the air. The next sequence of events was quite spectacular if a trifle worrying. The starling jumped upwards and promptly hit his head on the chimney can and toppled backwards down the chimney! I in turn had spanged off the wire support, smacked my head against the same chimney can and fell backwards down the roof. I scrabbled frantically at the tiles and just managed to grab hold of the last one but the momentum carried me onwards and I lost my grip, I was now within inches of the roof edge and with an almighty twist and turn I sprang through the air and landed heavily on the oil tank roof. Another ‘hunting’ moment gone awry .. once more!
I took a moment to assess things and my position, and was actually quite chuffed that I still had that inbuilt sense of balance and dexterity to fly through the air and land feet first when faced with imminent death. I took a moment to lick my backside, as you do in moments like this, and then lay back with a large grin on my face, rolled over and promptly fell backwards off the tank and landed in among the rose bushes. Not a pretty sight, I shot upwards from there with a few thorns stuck in places thorns shouldn’t go and tried to walk nonchalantly off the flower bed as if nothing had happened. The starlings on the fence wire broke into a huge round of laughter and they mockingly tweeted loudly at me as I ambled off.
Hah … but I had the last laugh, their brother had been forced down the chimney by Elwood the Destroyer and I was still ahead on points. However I began to realise this may cause large amounts of distress to the humans, as the chimney was attached directly to the wood stove, and there was no means of escape for the said starling. I took a stroll across to the patio door and from this excellent vantage point I could see directly into the sitting room. There in front of me was the glass fronted wood stove, with a small frantic looking bird darting about inside the fire. It laughingly being called the 'summer' there were no flames, just an empty grate …. and a blackened dancing starling doing the macarena.
Things could only get better … it was just an hour or so before the humans would be getting up, and so I settled down to a short nap before the excitement and fun would commence. I didn’t have to wait long as sure enough I awoke to see the man of the house coming into the room in his usual early morning gait, ambling around in his boxers looking out on the sea and down towards the beach. Oh, goodie, goodie …. wait till he checks the fire …. Yip here he goes, his attention drawn to the noise of the starling doing back flips behind the glass door.
“Good God … what’s that” he mutters to himself …. “Oh my God, it’s a bird, how the hell did it get in there?”
He stands and looks at it, while the starling stops his aerobics and similarly stands head cocked to one side and looks back at him. A stand off ensues. He then sees me looking in at the patio doors, and comes across and opens them and lets me in. I feign love and affection by weaving between his legs and then edge up to the fire for a closer look. Hee Hee, what a cracker, the bird gives me the eye and I give him my fiercest twitching mouth, bristling whiskers look, and pretend to paw at the door.
“Heh!” he says, “Come away from the fire”
“How are we going to get him out of there?” … he asks nobody but himself, as he doesn’t realise I can understand him.
You’ve got you’re work cut out of there pal, I think to myself, but Hell it’s going to be a lot of fun watching this.
He ambles off and in a minute the Mrs of the house returns with him. They both look down at the starling, which is now into his Dirty Dancing routine, jiving back and fore inside the grate, kicking up the ash and dust and generally making a right meal of it.
A few minutes pass while they both look at the bird and the fire and a lot of muttering goes on until finally he heads off out of the room, only to return a few minutes later with a large dustsheet. Oh wow … this looks good! He proceeds to describe in minute detail to her the intricacies of the capture manoeuvre. It sounds too good to be true, he thinks if he deftly opens the door a mere fraction and positions himself close by with the sheet, when the starling makes his escape he will capture the bird in the sheet and then release it outside. Simples! Ho Ho ….
She takes up position on the door handle, he in squatting poised dustsheet-at-the-ready stance, the fun is about to start. I retreat a few steps behind as I just know this is never going to work, but I might just be able to nip in and capture the starling with a quick pounce if he tries to make a get away. Slowly, ever so slowly, she cranks open the fire door and he is now moving slightly closer, a bit further, but still no bird appears, a bit wider the door opens and still no sign of the little devil. Finally she opens it completely and looks inside, he’s nowhere to be seen. This is clever, what’s he done, I take a step nearer too and both of us are now peering into the fire grate. He must have climbed in behind the throat plate or something like that …. and the Mrs and me look at one another, and just as we look back into the fire …. he leaps out from behind the plate and makes a dash for freedom.
Holy Shit … all hell breaks loose …. She falls backwards with fright at the bird flying past her nose, he steps on the dust sheet and then tries to throw it over the speeding feathered object, trips himself up and lands in a heap on the loose mat which shoots outwards and in turn upends himself onto the floor, throwing the dust sheet over his wife. She scrabbles about underneath it while he in turn rolls over on the mat and lunges desperately at the zooming starling. I, to show willingness, give a couple of swipes at it as it flies past which does make it alter it’s flight path considerably and it goes onto head butt the patio door quite forcibly. He leaps up to try and catch the stunned bird, and I join in the merry frolics, but possibly I am not helping matters, as he inadvertently trips over me and disappears over the back of the settee in what I have to say is a beautiful manoeuvre, somewhat reminiscent of a swan landing on a loch. There is a tremendous crash from behind the sofa, and I guess there’s no water there to absorb his landing. Mrs Homeowner meanwhile has finally extricated herself from the dustsheet and is chasing the bird around the sitting room. He appears to be trying to get up again, as a few grunting sounds comes from behind the sofa, and slowly his dishevelled head appears above the backrest. I have taken this moment to slip quietly away and take up a position near the opposite window sitting with my mouth as wide open as I can, in the faint hope the starling will fly directly into it. This doesn’t happen as while the bird is heading in my direction, so are the humans armed with the dust sheet amid cries of despair as they dart round and round the room chasing the blasted thing.
I have to say I haven’t had so much fun since the day they tried to give me a tablet, and watch in amazement as the chase ensues. The final and ultimate tactic is a clever one in a way, but not necessarily the best for all concerned. He decides to open the patio door as wide as he can, while she tries to steer the wild-eyed, high speed, super jet Mr Starling towards the opening. Three aborted attempts later, they are closing in on the beast, and a concentrated effort on their part with the dustsheet is the plan. They shoot past me holding the sheet high between them, above their heads and driving the bird towards the open door, the bird finally dives down and out into the open air. So too does he …. not as was initially planned I think, as with the sheet over his head he shoots out through the opening, landing on the cold concrete in his bare feet, which in turn is littered with small sharp white stones.
The story of the 7.30am bus seeing a ghostly vision outside of a Levenwick house as it cruised past was told for many a day. Not only was this apparition flaying about, but it was seen to be jumping wildly up and down too. A fearsome sight with a blood curdling wail emanating from within.
Later, talk at breakfast was all about ‘the flaming bird’ or words to that effect, and how it could have fallen down the chimney. I lay there at the side of the Rayburn, saying nothing ….. but I knew, because a little bird had told me.