AT 8.45pm last Tuesday Kathy (my partner) and I had settled down at last after a long day and as we turned the DVD players on – the rescue line rang!
The caller was a lady from Shoreham Beach concerned about a swan trapped on a footbridge which crosses the river at Shoreham.
My first thought was, it’s out of our area so we shouldn’t attend, but then who else would attend?
The local rescue group doesn’t operate out of hours so WRAS is the closest rescue group with facilities and experience in dealing with swans.
So we drove the 40 minute drive to Shoreham as local residents were unable to find anyone closer willing to help at that time of night.
The swan is thought to have crash landed on the footbridge which crosses between Shoreham Beach and Shoreham Town Centre. To make matters worse the bridge is currently closed and has 7ft high security fencing round either end. The footbridge was not wide enough for the swan to spread its wings and take off again, so was clearly trapped on the bridge and with the security fencing at either end it couldn’t escape.
When we arrived two local residents were talking to the swan feeding it bread and trying to keep it close to the end of the footbridge to make it easier for us to catch. As the bridge was closed to pedestrians, we had to climb over the 7ft high fencing by climbing on the concrete pillars and original bridge railings.
It was not easy to get over and I ripped my trousers in the process, I’m clearly not as young as I used to be!
I was able to corner the swan on the bridge, give it a check over and then pass the 10kg bird up to my ever understanding partner, Kathy who held onto it until I was able to climb back over the security fencing.
Once back on the roadside Kathy carried the swan across the marshland as far as we could safely in the dark towards the river, before releasing the swan and letting it waddle off back to the safety of the river.
I suspect the swan probably collided with the bridge in the dark and landed by chance on the footbridge. The local residents told us it had been walking backwards and forwards for well over an hour before they decided it needed help. It would have been stuck there till the morning and potentially attacked by a fox or dog. However, it was good to see him get released and glad he didn’t have any injuries as a result of this incident.
It’s been a busy week with night time call-outs including another night time rescue which I dragged Kathy out to at 11pm as we were going to bed. The caller phoned about a tawny owl which had been hit by a car in a narrow lane near Blackboys which is near Uckfield.
When we arrived the owl was very dazed, and its wing was hanging. Trying to avoid getting caught by a pair of amazing talons, we examined the bird’s injuries and it soon became clear that the bird’s wing was fractured, but it was unclear whether the damage would be fixable. The bird was give pain relief and antibiotics and its wing bandaged to secure the fracture. The following morning the owl was taken into Henley House Vets in Uckfield for the vet to assess better, we were hoping the wing may be pinned back together but sadly the fracture was too close to the joint which would end up with the joint having restricted movement as the fracture calcified back together, so sadly the vet had to end the bird’s suffering.
We have had a wave of hedgehogs this week coming into care from Eastbourne, Uckfield, Polegate, Hailsham, Westham, Ringmer and Lewes.
The majority of them have been found out during the day time, no obvious sign of injury or illness and when admitted into care a number of them have died within 12-24 hours. They have been examined after death and give a post-mortem examinations too, and they have all been found to have the Thorny Headed Worm parasite inside which we believe is what is killing them.
Other rescue centres across the country are reporting the same problems.
We are now having to treat all hedgehogs coming in at the moment for this worm, as there is no reliable test for the parasite. This year the weather has really been in the parasites favour as we are also seeing a lot of other parasite burdens on hedgehogs too – mainly ticks.