TREVOR WEEKS: We can’t believe how busy we are at the moment

Badger in a well in Hastings SUS-170531-133911001

Badger in a well in Hastings SUS-170531-133911001

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Sleep is certainly in short supply at the moment for our care team. We are all working very long hours to try and keep on top of all the casualties.

Casualty manager and fellow duty rescue co-ordinator Chris Riddington and I are regularly work 15 to 20 hours a day working until the early hours and then back into work for 9am the following morning with little sleep. I can’t believe how busy it is at the moment. Our hospital is very busy but casualty managers Katie Nunn Nash and Kathy Martyn are doing a good job of planning and moving casualties through the system as efficiently as possible but without compromising their care. We are at that time in the year when we have to say no to some species and ages depending on what cages and facilities we have free at the time. It may only last a few days before patients are released and there is more room available again. But we are working very hard trying our best to do as much as possible.

Bank Holiday Monday night turned out to be a busy one. Kathy and I drove up to Turners Hill to deal with a road casualty tawny owl as we couldn’t get anyone closer to attend. I then ended up rushing down to the centre to meet rescuer Fiona who had rescued a hedgehog in Newhaven covered in millions of maggots. I then met a couple of ladies with a gull with a hook lodged in its mouth which was treated at WRAS’s Casualty Centre and had the hook removed. I then rushed to Heathfield to look for a disorientated fox cub running round in circles in the road, followed by a road casualty badger at Burwash, and a gull with a badly injured wing on Hastings seafront. I drove over 127 miles that night.

Chris and I have rushed out to another couple of badgers this week. Sunday morning we drove over to Hastings after one of this year’s badger cubs fell about four feet down into a dry well in a garden in Hastings. We used a dog grasper to secure the cub before it was covered over and scruffed and lifted out of the well. We were able to release him there and then, as we were away from main roads and the badger sett was close by. He shot off along a well used badger path which runs along the back of the gardens. If the well had been deeper this rescue could have been much harder. We were also called out on Bank Holiday Monday to a collapsed badger on the cycle path next to the A272 A23 junction at Bolney. This is not an area we normally cover but we were asked by West Sussex Wildlife Protection if we would attend as they couldn’t find anyone else closer. The poor creature was in a lot of distress and had to be rushed to our vet where sadly we had no choice but to put him to sleep due to internal injuries.

We had an unusual visitor of a great crested grebe visit us. The bird was found on the road at Chalvington. These lovely waterbirds are not very good on land, and we are a bit surprised at it being found at 10:30pm in the dark. The rather noisy and feisty bird had minor grazes to its feet but no other injuries luckily. After a nights rest, the bird was taken back to Chalvington and released on a nearby pond.

Kathy, Chris and I have been out to catch a goose at Maresfield. Wearing a drysuit I waded out across the pond encouraging the goose towards the bank where Kathy and Chris were hidden waiting to catch the bird. In an almost text book rescue, the goose was caught and assessed. The bird had a nasty couple of fractures to one wing and damage to its beak. Being a Canada goose the bird can’t be released but is now at the Swan Sanctuary where an X-ray has shown the bird to have been shot and still has the pellet lodged in the fractured wing.

Rescuer Tony rushed to a hedgehog picked up by a dog in Polegate. He couldn’t see any major injuries but delivered the hedgehog to WRAS’s Casualty Centre for a better assessment. The female hedgehog had a larger large belly so we decided to use our ultrasound to investigate and she was clearly heavily pregnant. It was one of the clearest images we have seen of a pregnant hedgehog. She luckily only had a very small puncture wound on her forehead, which was treated and then Tony took her straight back to Polegate where she was released so she could go back to her nest and give birth in the wild in comfort.

Other rescue calls have been a catted bat in Polegate which is now with Jenny Clark at Forest Row in her bat hospital. Several call-outs after reports of goslings and cygnets being harassed by young people throwing stones at Shinewater and Hampden Parks. WRAS was also called to Newick to look at a squirrel up at telegraph pole as it hadn’t moved for several hours. It turned out to be a youngster which was frightened. This is common when the young encounter a predator or car for the first time and get frightened. They normally come down once they have their confidence back within 48 hours and should be left alone or they might jump off and cause themselves injury.