TREVOR WEEKS: Catching and treating the cygnets at Hampden Park

Hampden Park cygnet treat and release 17th May 2016 SUS-160523-100142001
Hampden Park cygnet treat and release 17th May 2016 SUS-160523-100142001

It has been yet another busy week of call outs. I must say a huge thank you to all our volunteers and staff for working such long hours.

On a regular basis over the last month my colleagues Katie, Kathy, Chris and I have worked over 15 hour days.

It’s therefore very sad that people really believe that we don’t care or can’t be bothered to help sometimes when we are busy.

Working in wildlife rescue is an exhausting role, and on Tuesday last week I had to be up at 4am, didn’t leave the Casualty Centre till gone 7:30pm and was still answering and co-ordinating rescue call at gone 11pm.

There have been a few calls we have not returned as a result but not because we don’t care but because we are not super human and can’t do everything. We are trying our best to do as much as we can.

Getting annoyed with us if we can’t get an ambulance to you because we are too far for you to drive is no reason to have a go at us.

We attend the majority of rescues well within an hour of returning calls, which is quite impressive.

We know that finding a casualty is very stressful and anxiety can cause you to lash out at us due to frustration - but the sad reality is there aren’t enough of us, and the resources out there are very limited.

We don’t get Government funding. We are told by the National Lottery, some supermarkets and numerous community groups and trust funds that we don’t benefit the community so won’t help fund us. Despite this, we have a core of extremely dedicated and caring staff and volunteers who work their socks off on a daily basis putting in way more time than most people do to help as many people and animals as possible.

Rather than being rude to us, please think about how you could help support us so we can be there for someone else in future, that way we will eventually be able to help everyone who calls.

We really would like to be able to help every person and casualty. If you can make a donation to help us please go to or call 01825 873003.

Many people are now enjoying watching the cygnets at Decoy Pond, Hampden Park, what most people won’t realise is that early last week WRAS caught all the cygnets and mum and gave them all a check over and injected them with a wormer.

The last three broods of cygnets have had major problems with parasites causing several of them to die as a result.

Normally we can’t catch wildlife without evidence of a current problem, but after speaking to Natural England they agreed that we could catch and attempt to treat the cygnets.

We are not aware that this has been tried before, so it is unknown whether this will work.

We are hoping that by treating then early it will allow their immune systems to develop strongly enough so that they can fight and cope with the parasites once older. This way we hope that the cygnets will end up staying at the lake rather than having to be rescued and removed from their parents.

The capture took place early in the morning to avoid crowds.

Our vet, Mike, attended on site to treat the cygnets. Rescuers Dave and Amy used boats, whilst Chris and I wearing dry suits waded through the water.

Kathy and Katie helped block the escape route as we gently encouraged the family into the narrow channel behind one of the islands.

The cygnets were very quickly and smoothly caught with nets and lifted out to Katie and Kathy.

Mum very quickly came out of the water allowing us to catch her but dad was being more of a problem so Amy helped keep him out the way.

They were all weighed and injected and released all together back onto the lake.

We had a call to a badger at Cowbeech visiting with plastic caught round its body. Kathy, Chris, Katie and I stacked out the garden and waited for the badger to arrive.

Chris and Katie sat in the conservatory whilst Kathy and I sat in the ambulance which we had driven into the neighbouring field.

At 8:30pm the badger arrived plodding through the grass, we waited for her to get right into the garden and relax eating. Kathy and I positioned ourselves to block her escape routes, and Chris and Katie approached from two different sides of the house. The first two attempts missed but the third time the badger was netted and secured.

Kathy and I quickly joined them with the badger cage and help lift the badger into the safety of the cage.

Using a seat belt cuter taped to a pole we were able to cut away the plastic round the badger’s body, which turned out to be the plastic seal of a large freezer or food storage bag.

The badger was underweight and weak on one leg, so rescuers decided to admit the badger into WRAS’s care for assessment by our vet and to build up her strength.

We have had our first calls to gull chicks in trouble. Rescuer Tony had to work with the fire service to free a gull after it rolled down a roof into guttering and then got washed down a drain pipe and fell two floors.

The chick was eventually rescued whilst one of the neighbours embarrassed themselves waving a tennis racket trying to frighten the parent birds away.

We live with nature, this planet does not belong to us humans to do with as we please. We are supposed to be the more intelligent species so I never understand why people get so irate when wildlife makes a noise or tries to defend itself or protect its young. Running round with bats or sticks will not frighten them away but make them more concerned and see you as a threat and just dive bomb more not less.

Thank you to the Beachy Head Chaplains who stopped late at night on their patrols for a road casualty tawny owl at Beachy Head. They picked him up, wrapped him a coat and took him back to their base.

I was already up and just about to leave the Casualty Centre so rushed down to Beachy Head to meet them. He was given emergency medication before being bedded down at our Casualty Centre. He luckily doesn’t appear to have any broken bones but is very concussed.

Also a thank you to Justine from Paws-n-Claws Pet Food store in Olives Yard Uckfield for donating loads of food to WRAS this week, as well as Muffins Café in East Hoathly who took pity on our staff this week and delivered us some food for a rather late lunch too.