Let’s talk about… Returning to the nest

A moving experience…on returning to the nest

 The weekend before last, just as the hot spell was beginning to kick off, and when everyone and their mother seemed to be out enjoying the sun, I found myself stuck inside, attending to the task I’d been procrastinating about all week – packing up to move out of Galway and ‘return to the nest’ back home in Roscommon for a bit.

I was admittedly quite bitter to be faced with this task, and not just because I’d left it to the last minute, or because the idea of sitting out in the sun by ‘Sparch’, Eyre Square, or Salthill (like seemingly everyone else in the city) sounded like an infinitely better option than filling suitcases… though it definitely did. I was also just disappointed to be leaving in general, having spent a full two years living there.

You know that phenomenon when a certain period in life is about to end, and you start looking at everything about it with rose-tinted glasses; by the last couple of days in that apartment, I was so prematurely nostalgic that I’d even started to look fondly on the noisy old pipes in the bathroom, and the even-noisier seagulls who would squawk and caw outside all day long (presumably just to annoy me specifically).

My room was in the attic and we lived by the water, so inevitably there was always a host of seagulls dotting the surrounding rooftops to be heard at all hours. They’d always find some way to disturb your day (as I would soon find out again for the umpteenth time). The only upside that came along with having them as neighbours was last summer, when one of them set up a nest right opposite my window, and each time I glanced out over the next couple of weeks  I got to see how the baby seagulls that popped up soon after were getting along. Slowly they learned to fly, got bigger, and lost their browny-grey colour, and it was sweet to see them progressing over the weeks.

As I got on with my recent packing, I caught the occasional glimpse out the window at the same nest, which this year again had had a seagull perched on it the past few weeks, annoyed that I hadn’t yet seen the baby seagulls appear, and wouldn’t now before I left. I was of course conveniently forgetting how much louder the seagulls noises got once the babies appeared, but that’s the rose-tinted glasses for you again.

Beyond rose-tinted glasses and sentimentality though, it’s become evident that moving out of a place after so long comes with other guarantees – for example the rude awakening that is seeing how much rent has risen by. Then there’s the fact that if you’re anything like me, you will have gathered an absolutely unfathomable amount of junk in your time living there – junk that will take much, much longer to pack away than you ever thought possible.

This meant that despite naively expecting to be done in time to enjoy the last of the weekend weather, by the Sunday evening, I was still pottering about in my room, trying to get all the last bits and bobs together. It was then, just as I was busying myself trying to Tetris the last of my notebooks and trinkets into a bag, when someone suddenly started knocking at my bedroom door.

When I opened it, standing on the other side were two of my housemates and three other people I’d never seen before, one of whom was holding a little cardboard box very steadily. And despite just having made the assumption that I wouldn’t see any this year before moving out, peeking out from the top of the box, just barely visible over the cardboard flap, was the tiny brown head of a baby seagull.

The group of strangers explained that they had been passing by our place when they noticed the baby seagull on the ground, likely having fallen from its nest. By sheer coincidence, one of them happened to work with birds, and was able to check to make sure it hadn’t been hurt. However, she explained that while the bird was uninjured, it was too young to be able to make its way back, so they had knocked at our door to see if we could access the nest from our house and return it.

And so I invited them in and showed them to the window, pointing out where the nest was. However, we quickly realised that the nest was just far enough out of reach so that none of us could safely return the bird from where we were in the room. Upon realising this, without a word, second thought, or ounce of apprehension (and to the utter bewilderment of my housemates and I), before we knew it one of the strangers had decided to simply climb out the window.

After making it out, she took the baby bird in her hands, slid down the roof, and returned it to its nest, before climbing back up and getting back inside, all in the space of a few minutes. It was like watching an odd, low-stakes, bird-centric spy movie, but impressive nonetheless.

The group left shortly after their successful seagull-saving mission and impulsive roof-climbing, once the mother and baby had reunited and it was certain we hadn’t placed the baby in the wrong nest. It was maybe one of the oddest visits we received over the two years, but also a very wholesome one, so not a bad way to round out our time in the house.

The escapade had set me back a bit in my packing though, so once they had headed off, I got back at it again. Packing always feels endless until it’s done; looking around at all I had left to do, I felt about as prepared to leave the house as the baby bird had been in leaving the nest.

Eventually however, despite the interruption, it all got sorted. The presses were emptied, the wardrobes cleared, everything was sorted into bags and boxes, the last big clean was done, and finally, after all the hullabaloo, it was time for me to also return to the nest and head home to Roscommon for a bit while I wait to find a new place in Galway – maybe this time one with less seagulls for neighbours.