TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Centre almost full to the brim with orphans and casualties

Trainee assistant manager Kirsti Sibbald, who is on placement from Plumpton College,  treating one of the hedgehogs.
Trainee assistant manager Kirsti Sibbald, who is on placement from Plumpton College, treating one of the hedgehogs.

Our centre is almost full at the moment and has been running at over 90 per cent capacity for the past month.

We have five collared doves, 20 feral pigeons, 12 wood pigeons, seven magpies, 18 blackbirds, four robins, eight starlings, 15 sparrows, 22 ducklings, a great tit, 13 blue tits, 11 hedgehogs, a stoat, four crows, two tawny owls, four goldfinches, a green finch, a linnet, a woodpecker, 12 jackdaws, two herring gulls, a mistle thrush, two rabbits and a jay.

That is 168 casualties currently in our care. We have also dealt with numerous gull chicks fallen off roof tops which have either been replaced on roof tops or taken in to Bird Aid at Hailsham, which WRAS helps support in return for them taking on the gull chicks.

We have been out to numerous rescues where casualties have not ended up coming into care. Kathy and I rushed to the aid of a fox near Pump Lane, Framfield, after it was hit by a car. A passing taxi driver found the fox and phoned it through and kindly waited as long as he could to keep it safe. Unfortunately it died only a couple of minutes before we arrived.

Ambulances have also responded to hundreds of calls this week, including a young finch which was collected from Glyndebourne Opera House, four gull chicks rescued in Eastbourne and Seaford within just one hour. A hedgehog road casualty has been dealt with in Herstmonceux. An adult gull unable to fly was rescued from Sussex Downs College in Eastbourne. We had a call out to a grass snake in a house in Lewes which managed to get out before we arrived. Two baby hedgehogs were found at Blackboys. Three ducklings were found at Broad Oak, which are now in care. With neighbouring organisations at Brighton and Bexhill becoming full we have found ourselves having to go further afield trying to help as many people as possible.

We are running a T-shirt Design Competition. We are looking at producing some new WRAS T-shirts and are after people to submit designs. They need to be a single light colour on a dark blue or black background. The final T-shirts will be screen printed so the design can’t be too complicated and obviously it has to mention East Sussex WRAS, its registered charity number 1108880 and website www.wildlifeambulance.org. The best design will be awarded some gift vouchers and a hamper. To enter free of charge please e-mail designs to me at trevor@eastsussexwras.org.uk. Entries close by July 7. The judge’s decision will be final and announced here and on our facebook page.

Our trainee assistant manager Kirsti Sibbald found out this week she has passed her exams at Plumpton College. Congratulations to her for working so hard at WRAS and for doing so well. She has certainly been one of the best work placement students we have ever had.

Our volunteers are working very hard, and several of them are working round the clock on very little sleep. If you do not hear back from us please feel free to call us back, or alternatively consider getting the casualty to a local vet or try another organisation. Vets do not charge members of the public for taking in wildlife casualties and most will hold on to them till we can collect them.

Please remember that all organisations like ours are very stretched. Please be understanding and please try not to be rude or abusive to our volunteers on the phone if we can’t help, as it doesn’t achieve or change anything.

WRAS, like virtually all wildlife rescue organisations, are underfunded and short of resources. We are trying our best but it is physically and financially impossible for us to help everyone and every casualty.

The good thing is, however, that every year we expand the number of casualties we can help. We are not a large organisation and volunteers like Tony, at Polegate, and myself can work round the clock on occasion.

We try our best to provide a 24 hour service but we don’t have a dedicated team dealing with this.

I had a really nice e-mail from a person in Willingdon. They contacted me earlier the same day about a fledgling jackdaw; I asked for a photo to check its age, and it was definitely a fledgling, so advised them to leave the bird alone – they weren’t overly happy about doing so – but I have now had an e-mail from them delighted that the jackdaw has flown up into a tree and its parents are with it.

If we advise you to leave a fledgling alone – it’s not because we don’t care – it’s because they are best left with their parents where possible. If I was a parent bird I wouldn’t want my youngsters taken away from me unnecessarily. Predators are a risk to fledglings but it is a risk they have to take.

Another unusual rescue last week which missed my column’s dead-line was that of a squirrel trapped inside a ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeder at Vicarage Lane, Hellingly. The squirrel was going mad trying to get out and chewing at the mesh and plastic. However as I approached the squirrel started to get worried and managed to squeeze out and run off down the garden.

• There are two videos of the rescue and release of a deer reported in last week’s paper on our You Tube site. Visit www.youtube.com/user/eastsussexwras