Plenty of call-outs as freezing weather sets in for the week

Trevor Weeks - buzzard
Trevor Weeks - buzzard
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Over the past week due to the severe weather warnings issued by the Met Office, I have had to sleep over at the Casualty Centre to ensure that the casualties are fed, watered and medicated.

By Saturday I was struggling somewhat, and thankfully volunteers Brian and Monica kindly stayed overnight allowing me to get home and have a shower and sleep in a decent bed! Looking after animals is a commitment, and one which everyone at WRAS takes very seriously.

This has been a rather frustrating week. A cormorant with some net on it, has been present for over six weeks now at Sovereign Harbour. Several of our rescuers have been down to the Harbour to try and catch the bird but without success. Every time they have visited, the bird has either disappeared or escaped. We have had over 15 calls about a gull with a damaged wing at Princes Park lake. Several concerned people reported it as being trapped in the ice which luckily it wasn’t, but it did have a badly damaged wing. Tony attended on site but the ice was too thin for our little inflatable boat to be used as the ice would have cut into the boat. Andy Tilney the park ranger arranged for a more solid boat the following morning but unfortunately the bird was so mobile it would have been impossible to move fast enough with the ice being present. Andy also consulted with officers from Eastbourne Fire Station and even they felt it was not feasible or safe to attempt a rescue on the ice. Several people said the lake was shallow and wanted our rescuers to wade out to the bird, but the water is actually between 4-7 feet deep across the lake. However, we didn’t give up and Tony kept visiting and eventually at the weekend the bird was more accessible at the bridge where he was able to catch and secure it. Sadly the bird’s wing was badly damaged and it was taken straight to the vets where they advised it would be kinder to put it to sleep. At least it is no longer suffering. These rescues are always frustrating and we often get concerned and caring people taking their frustration out on our rescuers. Please remember that our volunteer rescuers need to stay safe, and as a small local charity we don’t have endless resources and money nor access to the expensive boats and equipment that would be used by the human rescue service. We hope that one day we will have our own small boat with a motor to help with water based rescues but this is something we just can’t afford at the moment.

This gorgeous Buzzard came into care last Friday after being found in a main road near Lewes. The poor bird was badly concussed. The finder drove home with the bird to Eastbourne prior to calling WRAS. Rescuer Chris was asked to collect it and was surprised to find such a large bird. Back at WRAS’s Casualty Centre the bird was checked over and medicated then settled down for the night.

Due to the snow and severe weather the Buzzard was kept at our centre till Saturday, when Lindsey and Jamie drove the bird up to our friends at Folly Wildlife Rescue near Tunbridge Wells who have better facilities than WRAS for such large birds.

Rescuers have also been out to numerous other rescues this week including to a collapsed fox in Heathfield which wasn’t a good outcome; a fox dragging both rear legs in gardens in Seaford which disappeared by the time they arrived; to catch and release a wood pigeon trapped in a barn at Paws n Claws Pet Shop in Uckfield; a report of a swan thought to be stuck in ice on Princes Park which luckily wasn’t stuck; two female chaffinches with damaged legs, one of which hasn’t survived; a gull with a broken wing in Myrtle Road, Eastbourne; a hedgehog found wandering out in the snow on the Beachlands Estate, Pevensey; an injured pigeon in Tideswell Road, Eastbourne; an injured jackdaw in Polegate; a crow being attacked by other crows in Eastbourne; and a pigeon hidden in a corner at Hailsham Health Centre.

Some of you may remember that last winter WRAS received numerous calls about swans being stuck in ice and at the Pells Pond in Lewes, and ended up visiting several times a day as calls insisted the swan was stuck. Rarely do waterfowl actually get stuck. Don’t assume a bird is stuck just because you can’t see its legs. They conserve their warmth and energy by tucking their feet into their feathers, and some will push themselves along the ice rather than stand as the ice is slippery. Waterfowl normally move enough and have enough body warmth to stop ice from trapping them in the ice. Note exactly where the bird is and re-visit a couple of hours later, normally, but not always, the bird will have moved. If you are concerned please contact us and we will investigate further.