Stricken swan rescued from River Ouse in Lewes

East Sussex Wildlife and Rescue Service tends to the swan.
East Sussex Wildlife and Rescue Service tends to the swan.

Worried residents contacted East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) after spotting a swan on the River Ouse at Lewes with fishing line hanging out of its mouth and attached to fishing weights.

Rescuers attended on site on Monday but were unable to catch the swan from the bank, so they asked British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) if they would help provide a boat for the rescue.

As the tide was low, the charities planned a rescue for the morning of Tuesday. Overnight the weights came loose and disappeared, but it was clear from the swan’s behaviour that there was something wrong.

Alan Knight, Chairman of BDMLR, launched its rescue RIB with the assistance of medic Gavin Bruce, from Newhaven, just after 9am and came up to Lewes where it was met by WRAS’s Trevor Weeks and fellow rescuers Jayden Banks and Kathy Martyn.

Alan manoeuvred the rescue boat with skill with Trevor, positioned at the bow, used a swan hook to gently guide the bird between the bank and the pontoons at Lewes Rowing Club where Kathy and Jayden were positioned to catch it.

This was Jayden’s first swan rescue and he found himself catching the bird using a swan hook and having to pull it up onto the pontoon where it was secured. Kathy, Trevor and Gavin quickly joined Jayden on the pontoon.

Trevor checked over the swan and found a piece of line wrapped round the back of the mouth and going down the throat.

As it was right at the back of the mouth it was difficult to get to but was eventually dislodged - but the swan swallowed the line before it could be removed safely.

The swan was noted to be very pale and a bit underweight and was transported to WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith where it was given 24 hours rescue and recuperation before being returned to Lewes on Wednesday.

The swan recovered well overnight and was much more lively, and energetic. Clearly recovered, the bird was taken back to the rowing club and released to be back with her mate on the river.

Trevor said: “This is a great example of how groups can work together in a positive way to help each other and the wildlife of East Sussex. BDMLR have specialist knowledge and equipment for such water- based rescues and we would have struggled to catch the swan without their help.”