TREVOR WEEKS: Swans, and a successful kingfisher release

Swan at Sovereign Harbour SUS-181104-142628001
Swan at Sovereign Harbour SUS-181104-142628001

So much has happened this past week I don’t know how I am going to fit it all in!

We have had our first baby birds come in. The first one was a hatchling blackbird from Roseland Avenue, Eastbourne, which had been caught by a cat. Then a cheeky little finch was delivered to our centre after being found out of his nest. They are now in our orphan room and our orphan team is now swinging into action.

We have also had a catted slow worm come into care from Hailsham, it has lost more than just the end of its tail unfortunately, so is currently being treated.

Fox cub number three has been admitted after being handed into the Companion Care Vets in Eastbourne. A few days before builders had disturbed her den, along with their mum and siblings causing mum to run off. The builders did the right thing in replacing the cover and leaving alone. The following morning mum had returned and collected all but one of them. After a second night she still had not collected this cub so they handed it to the vets. She is now with our orphan team, feeding well and getting her strength up so it shouldn’t be too long before she can join our other two cubs.

If you find a swan in a location where it shouldn’t be or you are concerned about it, please ring us for advice rather than just escort it to the nearest body of water. Please try and keep dogs and people away too.

We were called down to Sovereign Harbour last week after a swan was found on the shingle beach at the harbour. Unfortunately well meaning members of the public had encouraged the swan back into the water thinking the swan was safer there. We spent about 15 minutes watching the swan which kept shaking his head and clearly wanting to get out the water but couldn’t get up the harbour wall. Eventually the swan returned to the shingle beach. We walked down to the water’s edge and cut off the swan’s escape route. We lulled the swan into a false sense of security by feeding it and I crept slowly forward before being able to spring forward and catch the swan. We checked over the swan and found a wound under the right wing. Its behaviour and injuries were that of a swan involved in a collision, so we decided to admit it to our hospital. At first we thought the wounds were not too serious but on closer inspection the swan needed more specialist help and was transported up to the Swan Sanctuary.

At the weekend we also took a call about a crashed swan walking along the car park near KFC in Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne. Again members of the public moved the swan into the nearby stream so when rescuers Tony and Claire arrived their job was harder. The swan was clearly very waterlogged and needed rescuing. They got some equipment out of the ambulance and managed to capture the swan from the bank. They covered the freezing bird in towels and rushed it to our hospital. The swan appeared to be covered in a substance like cooking oil. The poor swan was clearly struggling and was soaked through due the oil taking his waterproofing away.

After a shower and clean up to remove the oil the swan was dried out and placed on a heat mat to ensure he stayed warm. The incident has been reported to the Environment Agency Ref 1603862. Anyone living along the water from Princes Park to Leeds Avenue Eastbourne please keep and eye out for any wildlife that looks like its waterlogged or struggling like fish gasping etc. Ducks and swans should never look sodden and water should run off their backs. This oil isn’t black or obvious and it will just look like the bird is soaking wet and dirty. If you have any concerns, call the rescue line 07815 078234. If you see oil contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

We have had what we think is our first ever successful kingfisher release. We have previously passed these specialist birds to other rescue centres. After being admitted as a likely window strike our care team was concerned about neurological signs. The kingfisher was given a lovely recipe of sprats, special cat food, vitamins and rehydration fluid blended together. Our care team monitored him closely and tube fed the small bird to keep him hydrated and up to weight. After some rest his neurological symptoms disappeared and he began to perch and took food really well. Due to how stressed they get in captivity it’s important to try and get them home quickly.

We have also had a really difficult rescue of an injured grebe in the outlet stream of Princes Park Eastbourne. Rescuers feared they had lost the grebe after it went through the outlet grille, but as they got closer they could see the poor bird trapped in debris just the other side. Rescuer Chris was able to jump in the water and reach through to free the bird and bring it into care.