Country diary: a frail creature needs my help. But what is it?

Country diary: a frail creature needs my help. But what is it?

Stamford, Lincolnshire: Trapped between gutter and slate, a feathered being flaps pitifully. I steel myself for action

Nests have been collapsing from beneath the house gables in recent weeks. Wind and rain have helped; sun and unseasonal warmth then baked the nests’ remnants to the walls. On a day of the latter, I see the thing. From an upstairs window, caught on the guttering. It’s moving: persistently, pitifully, a small round head bobbing in and out.

From 10ft away, it looks in a hell of a state. I see a frail wing, between gutter and slate, and immediately think bat: then I see a splay of feather, and think bird. A baby, caught in the fragments of a nest that’s fallen? Unlikely, given the month. I watch it for ages, grimly, trying to work it out.

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