Trevor’s Week - June 8, 2011: Cygnets rescued from river

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RESCUERS Tony B, Jude, Kathy and I rushed to the rescue of a group of cygnets in the River Uck at Isfield last week.

After checking over a mile-and-a-half of the river no parent birds could be found.

The cygnets had been monitored for several hours during the day and only once the evening came were rescuers getting worried that the parents would not return.

Eventually after advice from the Swan Sanctuary it was decided to catch the four lone cygnets and bring them in for care. Young fluffy cygnets like this are not water proof and need to be able to snuggle up with their parents especially at night to keep warm and to prevent hypothermia setting in.

Tony wearing a dry suit drew the short straw on going into the deep water, with Jude in the inflatable boat and I just waded in and got wet!

The banks of the river at this location were over 12ft high so access was not easy.

The boat wasn’t much help so Jude decided to jump in and get wet too. Working as a team though the cygnets were surrounded and caught.

Kathy helped co-ordinate from the top of the bank, and helped lift the cygnets up the bank. At this point we thought the rescue was over, but not quite as Tony had to be rescued from his dry suit as the zip became stuck. After a lot of struggling I ended up having to cut him free! The little cygnets were kept at WRAS’s Casualty Centre overnight and driven up to the Swan Sanctuary the following day.

Thank you to everyone who came along to meet Sarah Jane Honeywell at Michelham Priory’s Wildlife Wednesday event last week. We have a few other events coming up.

On Sunday June 19 we are running a Treasure Hunt by Car in aid of WRAS. Registration is between 1pm and 1.30pm at WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre on the A22 at Whitesmith.

Car required. £10 per team/car, a list of items and information required will be given out on the day and teams have two hours to return with as many items and information as possible by the finishing time.

The winning team will get a voucher to get a £160 worth of MOT and servicing at Uckfield Motor Services as well as a couple bottles of wine and other goodies! It should be a great event so please come along and have some fun.

On Saturday June 11 between 1pm and 4pm WRAS will have a display at St Johns Church Hall, High Street, Polegate as part of the Polegate Residents Association Family Fun Day.

On Sunday June 12 between 11am and 4pm we will also be at Music in the Park being held at Huggets Lane Recreation Ground, Willingdon. Please come along and support these events and WRAS!

Our first Tawny owlet of the year went into our flight aviary this week.

He has been hand-reared by Hannah and was named Errol, though he has been nicknamed Plop II after the Tawny baby we had last year!

We also now have Plop III, he again is a Tawny Owlet, found on the ground in Buxted trying to walk through a metal fence, he had worn all the fluff off the bottom of his feet.

He was very cold, hungry and dehydrated but is now doing well with Hannah.

We come across many people who see pigeons as vermin, and often do not see them as being worth saving.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, just like any other animal or bird their life is as valuable as any other and they deserve a chance to return to full health and to the wild.

There are many people out there that do care, we have had one lady in the Brighton area spend weeks gaining the confidence of three pigeons visiting her garden with severe injuries, one of which had his legs tied together with netting, she caught all three which came in to us for treatment.

One has now been released and another is down in our aviary.

We have also had the pleasure of rearing many baby pigeons and doves this year so far and working so closely with these creatures gives you a great insight into their development and personality,

Kathy has had two very difficult babies to care for over the last week.

One is a Collared Dove named Quidditch, who appeared to have suffered severe head trauma, he was continually spinning and twisting his head to one side and underneath him, and when he tried to fly he flipped over, somersaulting till he hit the ground.

He couldn’t feed himself but the stress of feeding/handling him also made his symptoms worse which has made caring for him a fine balance to tread and we couldn’t leave water in his cage in case he drowned in the bowl.

Over the last week he has gradually improved and is now feeding himself and being weaned, he can now fly and no longer has any balance problems.

The second bird is a little Wood Pigeon baby called Godric. He couldn’t stand up or support his own weight, let alone walk. He was constantly sitting on his bottom and falling to one side and using his wings to support him. His feather development was also dreadful and he seemed very backward for his age.

We suspected that he was calcium deficient, which is more usual in doves than pigeons, but causes more problems to pigeons as they are heavier birds.

He is being hand-reared and has gradually shown improvement day by day with the benefits of good nutrition and vitamins.

He will be with for us some time but he is a real character and it is lovely seeing him being to be able to explore his surroundings more and more.