Herring gull rescue: Alleviating a fellow creature's discomfort

On leaving the building, I was confronted by the presence of a beautiful but still bird Credit: Alastair Stewart

I know I shouldn't smoke but I do. What is more, I cannot write 'bongs' without having a cigarette at the same time.

My habit is to go outside, with a piece of paper and a pen, to light up and to draft.

Last night I was presenting News at Ten. The brilliant Camila Mankabady was the programme editor and my dear friend, Christopher Terry, was lead writer.

We'd nattered and settled on Clinton's emails, Uber, the Calais refugees and Antarctica.

Off I went.

On leaving the building, I was confronted by the presence of a beautiful but still bird; it was sitting on the steps, no bigger than a pigeon and with the stunning feathering I associate with fledglings.

The RSPCA sent the bird to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital for more checks Credit: RSPCA

I moved closer, and it got up onto its feet; I inched closer still, and it flapped its wings.

No broken bones, then, but it had an air of being distressed.

Hungry, disorientated, exhausted? All crossed my mind but, whilst I am an animal lover, I am not a vet.

I photographed it and sent the image to my friend, Sir John Randall, the former MP and deputy chief whip, who is a noted 'twitcher'.

"Thoughts?", I asked.

He is in America and didn't get my enquiry until later.

Another 'tweep', however, ventured: "Baby herring gull".

Disorientated, exhausted, a herring gull no longer at peace with the world Credit: Alastair Stewart

Several colleagues, leaving and entering the building, also pause; it was a compelling image of a wonderful creature but one no longer at peace with the world.

Someone called the RSPCA and their initial reaction was to say that, if he/she was still there in the morning, they'd come and have a look.

We gently suggested we'd like action tonight. It was 9pm, very dark and it was getting cold.

What is more, Grays Inn Road is a busy road and there was no cover in which this forlorn creature might take sanctuary.

When I came out at 9:30, for my "final fag", he/she was in a box.

Thinking the bird would starve or dehydrate overnight, I protested to the kindly security man who explained the RSPCA had heard our pleading and were sending a team to collect our friend.

When I re-emerged, after the bulletin to head home, the bird and box were gone.

The RSPCA had proved true to their word.

Today, they tweeted me to confirm the bird had, indeed, been collected and had had an initial check-up at their Harmsworth Animal Hospital.

Credit: RSPCA

They'd agreed he/she was exhausted and had sent him/her on to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital for more checks and some 'tlc'.

You can imagine my joy when I received these picture of the bird, being tended to by nurses and being proudly held by a guy who I guessed had collected the creature from the steps of ITV News.

We're keeping in contact and my 'bong-writing, ciggie gripping' fingers are firmly crossed for a good outcome.

Amidst the pain and pressure of the day job, it was a happy saga.

A fellow creature's discomfort proved a cause of concern to many of us; a brilliant charity did its thing as only the RSPCA can; and a Wildlife Hospital, another charity, are hopeful they can restore our young herring gull to its former glory.

It just made me feel good.

Find out more about the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.