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We couldn’t decide if we were in a particular rainy version of Birds or Vertigo while hot-footing up a winding old staircase to get to what was described by a bpb informant as “a terrace full of birds”.

The rusty staircase is punctuated with wide old windows and curls up the spine of Queen’s Mansion, the same building that houses Chemould Prescott gallery (they have a terrific show on, by the way). Climb all the way up and you’ll reach a huge terrace lined with homes and drying laundry – but also a population of birds that are rarely spotted in these parts, including baby owls and egrets that stood around on one leg or elegantly tip-toed over the sprawling roof, like a bunch of ballerinas taking a break.

“Pradeep is the one who actually nurses the birds,” a resident tells us while blowing on a steaming cup of tea. “They stay for as long as they need to heal, and then fly away.”

Injured birds can be left in a little basket that sits on the ground floor – just leave a word with the watchmen, and they make sure the birds get to Pradeep safe and sound.

Fair feather friend, indeed.

Getting there: Queen’s Mansion, A K Marg, Fort, staircase is right next to the main gate, look for the grey basket.

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