HAPPY New Year to everyone, I hope that 2011 turns out to be as productive and positive as 2010.
Many changes have occurred over the past 12 months and hopefully with your support there will be many more.
WRAS has never been able to respond to every call out which it receives but we are certainly helping more people than ever before.
Christmas has seen our volunteers working hard as usual both at the rescue centre but also out on the road dealing with numerous call-outs.
January is normally a heavy month for swan and fox call-outs. Our facilities for these casualties are limited but this year we hope to expand the number of suitable cages.
Christmas week saw us attend a swan at Hailsham Common Pond, which had a lump in its neck. It’s always difficult with swan calls to know which are going to be easy and which are going to be a nightmare.
Rescuers attended on site at Hailsham Common Pond to find two swans, one very much lively and feeding in amongst the ducks and geese and a second further out not interested in food which swan to the island ignoring us.
As it was late it was decided to return the following day. In the meantime we receive a call about a swan with a broken wing at Newhaven Marina.
We drove down to find a swan at the bottom of the slipway. It is always best to try non-invasive approaches first, but they don’t always work, but it saves a lot of time and hassle if they work.
So using a loaf of bread we tried to encourage the swan out of the water for an easy catch, but clearly the swan was very wary.
This wasn’t too surprising as the poor bird had a wing dragging in the water which we suspected was broken.
The swan would not let us get anywhere near it so we decided to call in help from Swans and Friends at Outwood with a boat to help with the capture.
The following day we returned to Newhaven Maria where several WRAS rescuers attended along with John from Swans and Friends, we were also joined by the local Dive Club who offered us the use of their boat to help with the rescue.
In these situations the plan of action is to use boats to guide the swan towards the pontoons where rescuers with swan hooks attempt to catch the injured swan as it swans under the pontoons.
John and I decided to go off and find the swan and to our amazement it was in an ideal position and too good an opportunity to miss a quick and easy capture.
I was deposited onto one of the pontoons leaving rescuer John and Richard from the Dive Club to drive the swan towards me.
We were also joined by a rival swan which also decided to help, and with a quick flick of the swan hook I was able to catch the swan and get it up onto the pontoon.
One of our recently donated pillow cases was used to hold the swan and transport it back to the slipway.
We returned to Hailsham Common Pond as well to check on the swan with a lump in its neck.
Whilst waiting for other rescuers to arrive - again expecting a difficult rescue - we decided to give the non-invasive attempt another try.
As locals had reported some possible fighting between the swans having occurred, we decided to try and lure the injured swan to the bank away from the other swan present.
These worked well and within minutes the swan was crossing the ice in our direction.
I spent about 15 minutes building up the swans confidence and eventually the swan was close enough for me to grab its neck and lift it out of the water. This wasn’t easy as I had to be careful where I held the swans neck.
The lump was clearly and abscess and needed specialist help. Both swans were transported up to the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton for specialist treatment and care.
Other call-outs over Christmas included a swan crashed on Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne but this was unfortunately run over by the time we arrived.
A swan on Christmas day wandering along a lane near Newick Place and a swan thought to be trapped in ice at Princes park, which was luckily ok when checked.
Seven more of our hedgehogs are looking good and we hope we will be able to move them into our hogstys this week. Pop, Crackle, Ice, George V, Sparkler, George IV & York range from 632 - 711g now.
One of our hedgehogs called “Max” has had a build up of fluid between his front legs and his neck, this can be a lymph drainage problem, heart/lung problem caused by lungworm, or the digestive system not absorbing nutrients properly. Luckily this is now under control and back to his normal size and shape after diuretics, antibiotics and further worming again. Max is now 440g.
We have a little Dunlin in care too, which is a first for WRAS, he is eating well and starting to fly but needs to regain his water proofing further before we release him.
He had an eye infection when he came in but this has been quickly treated and has stopped now.
Sadly WRAS rescuer Michael Lamb passed away just before Christmas. Michael has been rescuing with WRAS for many years and would drop what he was doing to go to the aid of an injured animal.
Michael was a great guy and cared passionately about animals and was always texting me to say when he was available to help. Most recently he helped East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service rescue a badger caught in a metal gate at Hastings. Jenny at the Bat Hospital was amazed at how much of a “natural” he was at handling rescued bats too.
I am glad that the last time I met Michael was at the Sovereign Radio Awards where he attended with Kathy and I when I received my award back in October he was a great laugh. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Michael’s family. Rest in Peace Michael you will be missed by many.