TREVOR WEEKS: Duckling proves a handful for our rescue team

I have not known a year like this with so many calls coming in constantly through the day and night.

Saturday, 1st July 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:28 am
Duckling rescue in Uckfield SUS-170628-140511001

You answer one call and by the time you have finished you have four or five more to call back. Just on my 20 minute drive home earlier this week I ended up with eight answerphone messages. This is unbelievably busy. We really need to have another full time member of staff working all week to keep on top of the workload but we can’t afford that. If we have not been able to help you it is not because we don’t care but because we are extremely busy.

We were called out to a mum and ducklings in Birch Way Hailsham on Tuesday. Mum and ducklings were secured in one of the gardens till we arrived. Its always important to try and let mum walk to where she wants to go and not to push them into going in a direction she may not know. Chris and I let mum out of the garden where they were being held and let her wander around for a while and it was clear she wanted to get past the houses onto the Cuckoo Trail. One of the residents of the close kindly let us walk them through their garden and out their gate onto the Cuckoo Trail where we let mum walk the babies in which ever direction she wanted to. After a short walk along the path she turned off up the embankment in the direction of a wooded pond. Now safe and away from roads she was left to conntinue her journey.

Kathy and I found ourselves dealing with a difficult rescue on Sunday evening after some children noticed a lone duckling behind a drainage grate in Uckfield. We were called to the scene in Old Common Way, but the duckling was nowhere to be seen. We decided to investigate further as it was obvious that the duckling could not have got out. Kathy tried to undo the metal grill but this proved impossible. So our only access was via drain covers which were in the road and would require ladders to get in and out. WRAS volunteer Christine Skinner from Uckfield came out with a set of ladders from home to help us. At first we could not hear the duckling. I climbed down into the drain and nothing could be seen by torch light but that suddenly I heard the duckling cheeping. I was not sure where it was at first so it took us a while to establish that it was further along under the road. We lifted a second drain cover so I could climb down to find the duckling close to the chamber. The poor little thing just sat there and let me pick him up. He was clearly very frightened, cold and alone. I passed the duckling up to Kathy who cupped the duckling in her hands to keep warm. The duckling was taken back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre where is has now been bedded down with two other little ducklings. This poor duckling would not have survived the night if it had been left down the sewer, so well done to the children who notice and reported it.

Sadly we have now had our 6th litter of mum and baby hedgehogs. On Tuesday we had another family in from Heathfield consisting of four babies annd mum all around 10 days old. This is the second family from Heathfield which we have had to rescue. This means that a species that had only just started to increase in this particular town, is now going to have eight less hedgehogs in their population, a declining species, which is very sad, as the babies will eventually be soft released elsewhere. It is additionally sad when they have come into care when it could have been prevented.

It is breeding season, for birds and mammals, the last thing you should be doing is ripping out hedges and trees especially without checking carefully that you are not destroying nests. This year is worse than it has ever been and not only is it damaging the population, but it is also costing us a lot of money in rearing and releasing them, as well as using up valuable space needed by animals who are sick or injured. Please think twice before doing major gardening work and check, check and triple check where you are working if it has to go ahead.

Well done to WRAS’s Chris Riddington for completing the Ultra Marathon in just one day last weekend. He ran and walked the entire 53 mile route across the South Downs from Arundel to Winchester arriving about 11pm. He has raised more than £1,300 for WRAS.

Two more gulls have been shot possibly with ball bearings from a gun or catapult. One on 22nd June was an adult Herring Gull found at The Drove Pub, Newhaven. Another on the 23rd June also ann adult Herring Gull found in a garden in St Anthony’s Ave, Eastbourne.

What a complete waste of life. We are starting to wonder if any is going to start taking these incidents seriously and do anything about it. We have also been told that a swan has been shot and killed at Shinewater Park too.