Sunday 13 June 2010

Fish and feathers

Every morning, the same: feed cats, feed goldfish, fill wild bird feeder, feed hens - except now not just chucking the chooks some wheat and mash, but dosing each one with a ground-up antibiotic tablet dissolved in Powerade for the canker that so far only one has got. That meant weighing each one to determine the dose (lidded bucket plus suitcase scales) and now grabbing them one by one twice a day for a week to squirt it down their throats. Good fun.

The hen with canker is Titch, the oldest: a bantam who came strolling down the road one day about 6 years ago and was never claimed. Like all bantams, she has attitude, but she's cute and very chatty - or was, till this nasty growth attacked her throat. Now she's settled in the house, in the cat basket with a fresh tin of Fancy Feast every day and looks pretty comfortable, though it's too soon to say if she's getting better.

All this nursing fills in the time while the breakfast porridge is cooling for the doves, silvereyes, mynahs, starlings, sparrows and the once more lone love-bird sitting in all the surrounding trees like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds. Before I understood the difference between native and endemic, I thought silvereyes (or waxeyes) were only found in New Zealand, but they're also native to Australia and some Pacific islands - not China though, so it was a surprise to see so many of them in cages at the Bird Market in Hong Kong.
From what I could see, the Chinese are very fond of caged birds - the market is big, colourful, and clearly a lot of the birds and fancy cages are pretty expensive. There were crowds of men taking a deep interest in everything on display.

I'm not keen on caged birds but, after 10 days of ships and cities, when I was walking through the suburbs of Qingdao, which were pretty and of obvious German heritage, but not big on gardens, it was lovely to hear one singing in its cage hung outside in the sun (even though it was probably saying "Get me out of here!")

It was impossible though to make any allowance at all for the hideous cruelty of sealing live baby goldfish inside the plastic globes of novelty key-rings being sold down on the pier.


the queen said...

Now that I've elevated "Hoochie Mamma" to the top of your ligit searches (and then stopped when it occured to me you are no doubt using this blog as a business networking enterprise), it looks like Titch might be the next to RIP. I understamd chickens really enjoy having food fed tothem in a cone shape.

TravelSkite said...

While 'sore bottom' is #2, I don't think your hoisting 'Hoochie Mamma' to the top is going to destroy my professional credibility, Queen, so just go for it. Hardly anyone ever comes here anyway (sob).

I'll keep the cone in mind for if she gets picky.


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