Trevor’s Week - October 5, 2011: Releasing casualties and chasing a fugitive bat

THIS warm weather is rather worrying – we really hope it doesn’t mean hedgehogs are going to start breeding again.

If so, we could be in for an autumn and winter of young hedgehogs being abandoned by their mums as they suddenly start trying to hibernate. Fingers crossed that this won’t happen.

This week has been a good one for releases, but we have seen an increase in the number of casualties coming in too.

A kestrel rescued at Turners Green near Heathfield made a great recovery this week after falling into a water trough in the middle of a field.

This bird of prey has been a good patient, eating well and making a full recovery in only a few days, so last week we were able to take the bird back and release him back to the wild.

It has been a week of school call-outs too. Rescuer Tony was called to deal with a gull trapped in a courtyard at Bishop Bell School in Eastbourne. He attended on-site and managed to catch and release the bird successfully.

The gull from Hampden Park which was caught in wire mesh with a chest infection has made a full recovery too and has now been released.

Tony also rescued a gull caught in football goal netting in the grounds of Seaford Head Community College. The bird spent several days at the Casualty Centre and has now been released.

We also had a grey wagtail coming in after hitting a window at Priory School Lewes and there was also a sparrowhawk we checked over after flying round a shop in Hailsham.

A gull has come in with two leeches in its nose and very run down and we are still getting juvenile and young pigeons and doves coming in for care too.

It has been a great week at our aviary site with releases of five of our wood pigeons and they put on an amazing flying display for us. Ewok the other baby Tawny Owl which was hand reared by carer Hannah this year has been released too.

We were called out to deal with an uninvited dinner guest who refused to leave a restaurant in Uckfield High Street.

The Brown long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) flew in through the open shop door of the Luna Restaurant above diners’ heads before circling round and flying up into a glass atrium over 20 feet up in the roof.

Staff ended up calling out WRAS to help rescue the small creature which is not more than 6cm long and weighed about 10g, with massive unfolding ears.

Kathy and I attended about 11pm and had to attach two poles together in order to reach the bat as it flew around.

The first few attempts failed as the bat flew round in circles trying to avoid the net, but eventually, after about 10 minutes of trying and the bat realising that mealworms were not on the menu, we managed to catch the fugitive in the net and then slowly and carefully lower the bat to the ground.

Some of our WRAS volunteers and I have been trained by the Sussex Bat Group and by Jenny Clark from the Sussex Bat Hospital, and have been vaccinated against rabies in case of the very rare chance of being bitten, therefore we do not urge members of the public to handle or attempt to catch bats themselves without seeking advice first and certainly not without wearing suitable gloves.

The bat was checked over briefly but it was clearly in good condition and flying strongly, so we took it outside and, when the High Street was clear, we released him where he flew back towards the restaurant and then up and over the building and around the chimney.

All too often we see the nasty cat-attacked bats, or those which have been trapped in buildings for several days and have become very dehydrated and underweight and are clearly not well, but this little chap was in very good condition and it was a privilege to see him fly off back to the wild.

Don’t forget to get your tickets for our quiz night and meal at Berwick Village Hall on October 22 starting at 7.30pm.Tickets cost £10 per person and includes free food, with suitable food for veggies, vegans and gluten-free diets. It will be a great quiz night with rather unusual questions on taste, smell and hearing!

The winner will get a silver bracelet, beer or wine and a luxury two-night holiday stay in a tipi in the heart of the Sussex countryside courtesy of Big Sky Tipis.

Tickets are available from WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith or from Checkers Barbers, 44 Seaside, Eastbourne.

It will be a great night full of fun and a great way to help support and raise funds for WRAS.