Trevor’s Week - May 11, 2011: Inquisitive baby owls needed a little help

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WE HAVE organised a walk and ploughman’s lunch on Sunday from Berwick Village Hall near Arlington Reservoir. The walk will go round the reservoir and back to the hall for a ploughman’s lunch. In order to save money we need people to book in advance so we know how much food to buy.

The cost is just £5 per person and you can book on 01825 873003, aiming to gather from 11.30am to start walking at 11.45am. Lunch will be about 1pm-1.30pm at the village hall.

WE HAVE had fox cub number 19 in this week. Two cubs entered a garden and sadly a dog attacked and killed one but the owners were able to save the other.

It was very underweight and needed help urgently. However volunteer Debbie has done an amazing job giving him some much-needed TLC, and he is responding really well now.

WE RUSHED to the aid of a roe deer near Chiddingly on Tuesday last week. It was hidden in a ditch at the side of the road between Golden Cross and Muddles Green.

The male roe deer was not easy to remove from the ditch but with the help of Plumpton Agricultural College students Georgina and Rachel it was loaded on a stretcher and taken to WRAS’s Casualty Centre.

However, a nasty injury to its pelvis and spine was clearly fatal and the deer was taken to Cliffe Vets Equine centre at Ripe for euthanasia.

WE HAVE had a couple of calls about baby owls with a gentleman finding one in a woodland while walking his dog.

He took the owl home and called WRAS for help. I was accompanied by rescuers Sue Archer and Plumpton students Georgina and Rachel attended on site. The baby owl had food in its stomach and had pooed in its carrier so rescuers knew it had been fed by its mum recently and was not abandoned.

It is not unusual for baby owls like this to leave the nest and climb up and down trees - even from a very young age.

As a general rule if you find a baby owl at the base of a tree you should leave well alone, but this was on a busy dog walking path.

I carried ladders across a works yard and through woodland in order to get to where the baby owl had been found. On approaching the tree a second baby owl was found sat on a tree stump next to the same tree.

After seeking advice from Vale Wildlife Rescue we erected the ladder and checked out a hole in the tree using a camera for less disturbance.

The photo revealed the location of the nest and that there were two other baby owls inside. Our two owls found on the floor were placed back into the nest with their siblings.

We had to be very careful and quiet in approaching and returning the owls so as to not cause any unnecessary disturbance to the nest.

The gentleman who found the first baby was asked to return in a few hours and the following morning to check the area to see if any more had fallen out.

The smallest owl, suspected of being a runt, was found two days later, cold and unfed, so he had to come in for care but the others seemed okay.

WE THEN had a call to Robin Post Lane, near Hailsham, where a baby owl had been found on the main track.

Amazingly again, a second baby owl was found on the floor by the tree again. Using ladders we were able to get them off the floor to avoid them being attacked by dogs.

WE HAD another road casualty family of ducklings again this week. However, unlike last week’s mum who was killed, this time mum and seven ducklings survived. She was badly concussed and must have had the mother of all headaches as a result.

Rescuers Tony N, Les Green, Tony B rushed to the scene to help catch all the ducklings and bring them in for care.

They are now at WRAS’s Casualty Centre and mum is doing really well, and we hope she will be releasable soon.

WRAS has received numerous calls about the lake at Hampden Park, which has been drained for work to be carried out.

Many have phoned concerned about ducklings, baby moorhens and fish. We decided to visit in the early evening as this would help identify if any of the baby ducklings and moorhens were having any problems getting back to their nests.

We found no dead fish, and all the ducklings and baby moorhens were tucked up with their parents on nests or on the island.

None were stuck on mud or stranded away from their parents. It is not the best time of year for doing this sort of work and they would have been better undertaking the work late summer/early autumn after the waterfowl had nested and the youngsters were able to look after themselves better.

In most wild ponds waterfowl would fly off as the water level drops, but unfortunately on park ponds where people feed, the wild waterfowl does not want to leave and end up staying around and putting up with the works being undertaken.

The work being carried out is important and will have long-term benefits to the wildlife at the park.