Wildlife team rescues swan after Eastbourne bridge crash

The swan was shocked and bruised after its ordeal
The swan was shocked and bruised after its ordeal

A wildlife team spent hours rescuing a young swan that had crashed into a bridge barrier last night (Monday, February 6).

Veterinary ambulances from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) rushed to the A22 Golden Jubilee Way next to Shinewater Lake after a motorist reported seeing a swan fly into the barrier.

Rescuers Kai Ahmed and Fiona Palmer from WRAS and off-duty rescue co-ordinator Chris Riddington arrived at the dual carriageway to search for the bird.

WRAS founder Trevor Weeks said, “The motorist was quite shocked after seeing the large white bird appear and spin round in the air after hitting the barrier.

“She was not sure if the swan then landed on the road or fell to the ground below the bridge.

“Out of concern that the swan could potentially get hit by a car or be seriously injured I sent a team to investigate.”

Kai, Fiona and Chris searched the area in the pouring rain using torchlights and a thermal imaging camera.

They walked the whole area over the bridge and under the bridge and the surrounding lake and run-offs.

After more than an hour searching the area, Kai spotted a lone swan not far from the bridge in a small pool.

Trevor said, “The swan’s behaviour in conjunction with the location made them feel this was the crashed swan.

“With the rain pouring down, the swan in water, and working in pitch darkness the rescuers had to be very careful.”

Rescuer Kai returned to the ambulance to grab a swan hook, poles and some nets.

Recalling the events, Chris said, “Fiona covered the inlet with her net to stop the swan escaping – allowing Kai and I to attempt the rescue.

“I stood on one bank with a net and long pole, and Kai on the other with a swan hook.

“Because we had been searching the road we had high visibility jackets on, and had to take them off in the rain and get wet as they were scaring the swan away from us.

“Kai hid in the reeds whilst I encouraged the swan towards him, and after a few attempts the swan got close enough for Kai to catch using a swan hook.”

Once back at the ambulance Chris said he quickly gave the swan a head to toe examination before it was transported back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith.

There, casualty manager Katie Nunn Nash, along with Kai and Fiona, gave the swan a further assessment and check-over and found the swan to be dazed and with a few minor marks but otherwise in fairly good condition and with no serious injuries.

Chris said, “After being given medication, the swan was bedded down for the night and was clearly very pretty hungry too. He will be reassessed again in the morning.

“Being a youngster this swan has clearly been very lucky and survived its ordeal and hopefully is just a bit shocked and bruised.

“This could have been a much worse outcome.”

WRAS’s rescue service is funded by donations and it one of a limited number of organisations which provides around the clock emergency service for wildlife in East Sussex.

To support the charity or to find out more about its work, visit the website www.wildlifeambulance.org or, to make a donation, call 01825-873003.