TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Our orphan rearing team is kept on the hop this spring

The baby blackbird.
The baby blackbird.

This week has been duckling week.

We had a phone call from outside our area from one of our supporters after some ducklings were seen without their mum in the walled moat of the National Trust property at Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks. The local wildlife rescue were rather busy and unable and as I was about to head home ill, I decided I would feel too guilty if I didn’t go. So I picked Kathy up and drove the hour journey to the beautiful site. Talking to the grounds staff their mum had not been seen since the previous morning. We rang the Swan Sanctuary to talk the situation over and they confirmed that young ducklings should not be left on the water on their own overnight. As the ducklings could not get out of the water it was agreed that a rescue was required. At first the ducklings stayed out of reach at the base of the house. Numerous people came up to us suggesting we needed a boat, but what people don’t realise is that boats in these occasions can made the situation worse causing the duckling to panic and scatter. If you are not careful boats can cause serious injury or even drown ducklings when working against walls or pontoons. As boats can be difficult to control in these situations we only use them as a last resort. Patience is a virtue, and waiting and choosing the right moment is always best. Rescues like these are not emergency situations and you have a few hours to play with, so picking and choosing the right moment is always best and far less stressful for the ducklings too. Eventually we were able to catch the six ducklings using the net just three times. The first one was caught against the wall of the stone bridge to the house. Three more were cornered at the far end of the bridge, and the remaining two round the opposite site of the house against the exit stone bridge from the house. You can see a video of the one of the captures and some photos on our You Tube page at http://youtu.be/Cg-tR8ku9pc.

The Ightham Mote duckling rescue.

The Ightham Mote duckling rescue.

The ducklings are now at WRAS’s Casualty Centre tucking in to greens and chick crumb and we will start them on duck weed this week.

These was not the only ducklings we were called to. An ambulance rushed to the aid of mum and four ducklings in the middle of Herstmonceux. Staff from the Woolpack Inn on the mini-roundabout in the middle of the village helped guide and corner them into a garden in Ba gham lane. WRAS arrived to find a kind lady watching over them and keeping them safe from two local cats. There were two possible locations the ducks were walking towards. Looking at the direction they were originally walking, we were fairly convinced that the stream and pond to the north of the village was her destination. We decided that walking her there was not going to be easy and too much risk of the ducklings being separated from her, so a capture would be most suitable option. Using a large net and a last minute dive as mum tried to fly off, she was caught and her four ducklings quickly captured. It is always important to keep mum and ducklings together. They were then taken behind the houses and across the field and releases on the stream where she quickly swam off along the stream towards the pond. You can see our Ambulance Cam and video of the release of the ducklings on our You Tube Channel at http://youtu.be/UGohq6Iy1gc.

Our orphan rearing team are now in the full swing of things. We have had yet more young blackbirds come into care. We also have several young rabbits in care from a variety of locations and most caught by cats or dogs. We have some young mice, a young robin, as well as young doves, feral and wood pigeons.

Would you know what to do if you found a stranded whale, dolphin or seal on the beach? Many people get it wrong and have actually caused the dolphins and porpoises to drown by trying to either hold them under water or trying to refloat them without waiting for professional help. For anyone interested in learning what to do if you find a stranded whale, dolphin or seal why not enrol on British Divers Marine Life Rescue’s Marine Mammal Medic Course which is going to be held on the beach at Eastbourne on the 5th July this summer. You can find out more information at http://www.bdmlr.org.uk/store/product_info.php?products_id=162.

WRAS is holding a “Walk on the Wild Side” sponsored walk on 24th May starting at the Belle Tout Lighthouse near Birling Gap and walking along to Hollywell at Eastbourne, across the Downs. There is a £5 registration fee and well behaved dogs are welcome to join in. There will be dog treats for all those taking part and rosettes for those completing the walk. The earlier you book, the more time you have to raise as much sponsorship as you can to help WRAS! Registration is just £5 by calling 01825 873003 or emailing lindsay@eastsussexwras.org.uk, you will then receive your start time, information pack and sponsorship forms to raise as much as you can for WRAS! There are staggered start times to avoid congestion. If the weather is good we would love you to join us for a picnic at Hollywell at the end.

Other calls this week have included an injured blackbird in Saxon Close, Hailsham, picked up by a dog, numerous night time calls including a road casualty badger on the A26 near Crowborough and a catted nestling wood pigeon from Seaford. There were calls to a road casualty duck at Lewes, injured magpie in Brighton, jackdaws stuck in a chimney in Lindfield and fox cubs thought to be abandoned in Brighton. An Ambulance was also called to a swan in Eastbourne last week. Our rescuers arrived on the scene quickly and managed to capture the casualty. On assessment some wounds were noticed and he was rushed into St Anne’s vets in Eastbourne who assessed and treated him, he has now been taken to the swan sanctuary for further care for more expert veterinary attention.