TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Ingenious rescue of a brood of ducklings trapped in pipe

This beautiful gull came to us via Seahaven Bird Rescue suffering from botulism.
This beautiful gull came to us via Seahaven Bird Rescue suffering from botulism.

Rescuers were sent to a house in Cross In Hand after reports of ducklings possibly stuck in a pond overflow pipe.

On arrival they were greeted by a very nervous mother duck and the echoing of the ducklings trapped.

The fox cub was admitted after being found in the middle of Eastbourne Road, Uckfield. It turned out to be suffering from concussion

The fox cub was admitted after being found in the middle of Eastbourne Road, Uckfield. It turned out to be suffering from concussion

Rescuers used waders and approached the pond’s overflow pipe and tried to get the ducklings out, unfortunately it was too deep.

After having a think, one of the nets was adapted to fit down the pipe and acted like a rope ladder for the ducklings to make their way up. One, then two and eventually five little ducklings were checked then reunited with their mum and the pipe covered. While there, rescuers found that a cat had left a present on the doorstep of the home, a young frightened rabbit. She has now been bedded down at our centre.

We had a call to an adult gull with its wing entangled in some line across a fish pond in Pleamount Gardens in Bexhill. The gull was wrapped up and the line cut, but due to a ligature wound on the wing he was taken to WRAS’s Centre for care and treatment. After several days of treatment and monitoring the blood flow to the wing, the gull was deemed suitable for release.

We had yet another call out to a squirrel in a bird feeder, this time at The Saffrons area of Eastbourne. Once again as our rescuers began to cut the feeder open, the squirrel realised how he got in and made his own way out!

We had a late night call out to a deer caught in a wooden fence opposite the Raystede Centre at Ringmer last week. It was almost 1am and I was on my way back from the Casualty Centre after dealing with an emergency. I was first on site with rescuers Andrew and Charlotte heading over. As I approached the deer, it started to struggle and eventually broke free and charged off and away.

We have had various new casualties in care this week but we have also released a gull which had recovered from botulism, a cat attacked blackcap and starling, a pigeon which was caught in line a week ago.

Four of our blackbirds have gone into an outdoor aviary, seven magpies have gone into another soft release aviary, four jackdaws have gone into an indoor aviary and also two hedgehogs have gone out for release. A dunnock that was found flapping in the middle of the road over a week ago by one of our volunteers was released this week. We have managed to get numerous gull chicks back on roof tops again this week, but quite a few have also had to come in to our friends at Bird Aid at Hailsham. This beautiful gull came to us via Seahaven Bird Rescue suffering from botulism. This is one of three in care at the moment suffering from botulism.

We have had two young foxes this week. This poor fox cub was admitted after being found in the middle of Eastbourne Road, Uckfield. He is concussed and sleeping off a rather nasty headache. He was with us for about five days before being taken back and released where found late at night.

The baby stoat which was rescued after being caught by a cat several weeks ago at Mark Cross, is doing very well. We have cut off all human contact with him now and within the next few weeks he will be moved into an outdoor pen and soft released.

You may remember we had a white starling in care recently, apparently one has been seen at Victoria Pleasure Grounds area of Uckfield this week. We are heading close to the 300th baby bird that will have come through our doors this season, and that doesn’t include the pigeon and dove babies! Our orphan rearing team and feed and clean shift volunteers have been amazing over the past couple of months whilst it’s been so busy, well done everyone.

Rescue centres across the country are full to bursting at the moment. A number of individuals in Bexhill, Newhaven and Brighton have all had to close their doors to new casualties for short periods of time. Even WRAS is having to restrict some of the type of casualties it takes in short term as we are so full. However, we have coped much better this year than previous years where this normally happens earlier in the season.

Across the country there are more wildlife casualties at this time of year than all the rescue centres together can cope with. The number of calls being received, especially at weekends, is very high and it is impossible to return every call. When phoning WRAS many people think we have a dedicated team sat there waiting for take calls and rescuers waiting to go out on rescues. When in reality I have the mobile rescue phone on me almost 24 hours a day seven days a week with the occasional evening or weekend when my colleague Chris takes the phone from me. Trying to rescue a swan or treat a fox in our first aid room and answer the phone at the same time is impossible.

On occasions during the 20 minutes spent tending to an urgent casualty I’ve missed 10 or more calls. While I try to call them back I’m missing yet more calls. We don’t have the funding to operate a better service than this sadly, but we are trying to do our best. To help us out please have a look at the advice pages on our website at www.wildlifeambulance.org where you will find some of the most common issues and what you can do to help.

Our resources are very stretched. On average the cost of us responding to a single call-out is about £75 but organisations like us do not charge for our service. We can only do this if people support us with donations.

Our funds are at their lowest at this time of year so if you can, please support us and make a donation. During the day you can call 01825-873003 to make a donation. You could always consider volunteering as well if you have four hours free once a week to help with our feed and clean shifts, particularly Tuesday, Friday or Sunday evenings 5-8pm or Weds, Friday, Saturday or Sunday mornings 9am – 1pm. Other days may be available, please contact Kathy@eastsussexwras.org.uk