I didn’t see the accident — just the blood on the road as I swerved to miss her as she staggered blindly in my way. I stopped and the cars behind were already pulling out to overtake me, I switched on the hazard warning-lights, jumped out and ran back.
No one else stopped — they hadn’t seen her — now she lay helpless in the gutter — I had to be quick or there would be another accident.
I could smell her blood, it was on my hands as I tried to hold her — steady her. She struggled and kicked — there were two huge gashes on her head, I could see the bone, liquid was bubbling from one of her eyes and blood was coming from her nostrils, strangely the cars whizzed past, their drivers oblivious to the drama.
I had nothing with which to do anything. I ran back to the car and found some carrier bags and the dog’s lead (no first aid kit of course) — anyway there was no time for that. I tore the bags flat and wrapped her in them, swaddling the little duck like a baby and trussed her up with the dogs lead so that she would not injure herself any more — she calmed. I lay her in the dark boot of the car wedging her in so she wouldn’t roll about then closed the lid.
Now I could have driven to town, to the vet — yes, she was (and still is) a duck — a little mallard, hit by a car — well she probably flew into the moving vehicle — she was, is after all, female — but I did not. I’ve seen the expression on their faces when you present them with a wild thing and I’ve paid the price!
No, I took her home. My husband groaned and, once again, our wet-room came into it’s own.
Trying to walk, she repeatedly toppled over to the right but in the half light of the darkened shower room she settled and sat quietly all that day and all the next. Nothing ate her. She moved around a little but would not eat the slugs which I had collected for her and which climbed their slimy way circuitously to the ceiling , nor did she try the bread in water which she spilled, nor the caterpillars that pupated on the tap.
On the third day, she was thin, dehydrated and matted but walked more steadily and looked up at me as if she saw me. We had to go away to a funeral the next day so first thing in the morning I carried her to our pond and put her down gently by its side. All the way there she was looking from side to side as if getting her bearings.. Next thing she topples forward and plop! She’s in the water, she lowers her head so that the pond water flows into her beak and she takes a long cool drink and paddles off purposefully around the margin of the pond.
On the far side she climbs out onto the bank under the muddy cliff where the water from the spring runs down in a curtain. She settles there washed by the tiny waterfall.
Next evening when we return she is still there. She watches me throw bread on the water then stands up straight and flaps her wings two or three times to test them, shakes herself and settles down again.
Next morning the bread is gone and so is she, flown away or carried off by a fox. But wait…
There she is, sitting near the path, ready for breakfast.
We have a friend who is a farmer, when asked if he has to get up a lot in the night for his animals he says, ‘No, God does the night shift.’