The Dying Swan

The Dying Swan in the drama going to unfold here, is actually a cormorant. Don’t ask me, how this type of bird I only know from visits to Florida ever happended to appear here in Berlin. But here they are.

At our golf course we have seen the odd specimen for a couple of years now. Always on our ponds going after the fish. And also often on the little island, the plast pipes of the fountains form, whenever the fountains are off. To warm up, I guess, their dark wings spread out in the sun.

However, last Monday, we held our weekly team meeting out on the terrace of the restaurant, overlooking the pond and golf course in front of it. As it was such a nice morning. And there it was: the cormorant. Sitting quietly on the water’s edge. The big mowers from maintenance came and passed the bird by a meter or so, but it didn’t move at all. When I left in the evening, the bird still sat there.

The next morning, it was still there. It’s head slightly tilted, it had moved to the other side of the pond now, right next to the clubhouse. Where folks pass to and fro, walking from club house to the golf courses and training grounds. I am talking hundreds of people per day. And the bird just sat there, quietly. I went right up to it – it didn’t move at all. Clearly there was something wrong with the animal.

So I went for a box, a couple of towels and caught it. It never made the slightest move or tried to flee, not even, when I lifted the box and drove the bird to the next vet to have it seen to.

Fortunately, the cormorant was not injured at all. The doctor had no clue what could be the matter with it. Maybe some sort of poisioning, was his best guess. And no, he was not able to help me any further. He gave me the phone number of a wild animal station a couple of hundred kilometers away. The doctor there might be able to help. So I called this Dr. Valentin. But he has long since closed his wildlife station and wasn’t practitioning any more. If it were some sort of poisoning, it might be lead, from the weights, fishermen sometimes put on their hooks. If the cormorant had eaten such a fish, that had escaped with the lead still in it, it could be the cause of poisoning. But he, too, had no idea how to help the bird, if it were this or any other sort of poison. He said to best put the animal out of its misery, if it were obviously in pain. If I were able to do such a thing.

Well, I am sorry to say, I was not. I followed the doctors second advise: to just put the bird back to its habitat and let nature go its own way. Although I am not entirely sure, whether our golf course is a natural habitat to cormorants. But this is where I found it. So I took the box back to a water hazard far out on the grounds, away from most people traffic and sat the bird free in the cane border next to a big pond. The bird seemed all weak, its black legs gave in and its head sank down to the ground. I wished it well and left. I hoped, the fox would come soon and that all would be over soon for the poor creature.

I went back to the office to catch up on the lost time, this little unsuccessful adventure had cost me most of that morning. Come evening, I had all but forgotten about the bird. Next morning, I came back to the office and told the story to one of our staff. She said: “But the cormorant was back last night in front of the clubhouse. Right there, at the pond. Sitting quietly, looking at the koi swimming back and forth.”

There is no way, the cormorant could have walked from where I put it in the morning back to the club house. So it must have been strong enough to fly there. I went straight out to check, but it was gone. Nevertheless, the Dying Swan was back!