TREVOR WEEKS: A wet week as cormorants and seals needed our help

Trevor with the Selsey seal SUS-160102-085517001
Trevor with the Selsey seal SUS-160102-085517001

I think I have spent more time wet this week than dry! We had a call to an injured cormorant on the River Ouse half way between Southease and Lewes.

Anyone who knows the area will know that access to the river bank is not easy and a good long walk.

So trying to get rescue equipment close enough was not easy.

On Friday we had to battle a blowing gale and horizontal fine rain stinging us in the faces to get there and search for the bird.

We spent ages searching the river but sadly found nothing.

After being out in the wind and rain for almost 2 hours having walked over four miles there and back, rescuers Chris, Andrew and I were frozen and soaked through to the skin.

We were in two minds whether to go and if we would be able to catch it, but we all agreed that if we didn’t we wouldn’t rest.

Although there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to catch the bird, at least if it was on the bank and in a critical condition we would have found it.

We came away empty handed without having seen the bird, but at least we knew there was nothing else we could have done.

I work with an amazing team who go way beyond what most people would do to help wildlife in distress.

The sad thing is we are still not big enough to cope with everything. But every year we expand our work so we can do more and more each year.

This week our trustee Monica came in to see us and open our new Monica Russell BCA Orphan Rearing Unit at our Casualty Centre.

Monica is been battling a rare and sadly incurable form of bile duct cancer, so we invited her in to open the new facility as a lasting memorial to her and in recognition to her love and dedication towards the wildlife which she has cared so much about over the years.

Monica is an inspiration to us and we all hope we will follow in her footsteps and be so caring.

Julia Cable, the on-call co-ordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), called me on Wednesday night last week, after BDMLR medics were concerned about an seal on the beach at Selsey Bill.

She sent me a photo and asked my opinion as she was not sure whether it needed bringing in - this can be very difficult over the phone and using photos.

We decided to play it safe, so Julia asked local experienced medics Charlie and Neil Sampson to attend on site and catch the seal.

Chris and I jumped in the ambulance and drove down and met Charlie and Neil at Eastergate near Bognor Regis where we then transferred the seal over to our ambulance.

The photos clearly didn’t show how ill the seal really was, so Julia and I were very pleased we had make the decision to bring him in.

We were also surprised that the seal was a young grey.

It was clear straight away that the seal was in a bad condition and needed treating fairly urgently.

En route back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre, Chris contacted our vet Mike and asked if he could meet us.

Back at the centre I carried the seal through to our first aid room and secured him whilst Mike took his temperature, listened to the seal’s chest and thoroughly checked over the seal and its numerous puncture wounds.

Medication was given and the seal cooled down due to a high temperature and tube fed vital rehydration fluid, before being bedded down in a large black dry pool for the night.

I stayed overnight at the centre to keep an eye on the seal’s temperature and ensure he was not overheating, and in the morning we transported the seal over to RSPCA Mallydams at Hastings to their specialist seal facilities.

A great bit of team work between everyone.

It is also ten years ago that I was in Cumbria and finally managed to free a trapped young bottlenose dolphin after it entered a harbour and was having difficulties getting out.

There is a video of this rescue as well as the Selsey seal on our You Tube Channel.

Other rescues this week have included a road casualty tawny owl from Haywards Heath, a skylark from Lewes, a young pigeon covered in oil from Eastbourne, a wet and hypothermic pigeon from Brighton City Centre, a pheasant in Fletching, a hedgehog with nasty neck injuries and a partridge in Lewes.

There was also a road casualty buzzard found on the A22 near Golden Cross which has been taken to specialist wildlife centre as the buzzard’s beak is cracked and will need long term care before release.

We also had a tawny owl which fell down a chimney at Golden Cross and needed rescuing after it then flew up onto a high beam.

Lindsay and I used long poles and nets to catch the owl, which was suitable for release outside.