Sussex wildlife rescuers fly buzzard to lifesaving operation

Wildlife Rescuers flew an injured buzzard from Sussex to Gloucestershire to undergo specialist treatment. Photo courtesy of East Sussex WRAS. SUS-160725-141648001
Wildlife Rescuers flew an injured buzzard from Sussex to Gloucestershire to undergo specialist treatment. Photo courtesy of East Sussex WRAS. SUS-160725-141648001

Sussex wildlife rescuers have taken the unusual step of flying an injured buzzard to Gloucestershire to undergo a specialist operation.

The East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) took the bird-of-prey into its care earlier this week after it was found with a broken wing.

It soon became clear the bird injuries would require specialist treatment not available within Sussex. WRAS arranged for the treatment to take place at the Vale Wildlife Hospital in Gloucestershire – a round trip of more than 10 hours by car.

But thanks to the help of Graham Mountford – a pilot and marine wildlife medic who is friends with WRAS founder Trevor Weeks – the rescuers were able to fly the injured buzzard from Shoreham airport to the West Country animal hospital in around 40 minutes on Saturday (July 23).

Mr Weeks said: “This has saved the buzzard hours in a hot car stuck on a motorway and saved a lot of stress. It’s amazing how it all came together and WRAS are extremely grateful to Graham, Vale Wildlife Rescue, Shoreham and Gloucester Airports for giving this poor buzzard the best possible fighting chance.

“It has been so nice to see so many people come together to help our wildlife.”

The bird was first treated at the WRAS hospital in Whitesmith, East Sussex before it was booked in for an X-ray at Henley House Vets in Uckfield. The test revealed the buzzard had suffered a fractured humerus.

Mr Weeks said: “As the operation would not be straightforward it clearly needed a person with experience to undertake the operation. So we asked Vale if they would be able to take on our Buzzard and undertake the operation.

“Vale and their team have more experience than most at undertaking these kind of operations and also have the added advantage of not having to go into a domestic vet practice with the added stress that may cause during recovery”.

Buzzards need large enclosures to aid their recovery after such operations and WRAS do not have facilities for long term care for such large birds of prey.

“It’s only in the last five or six years we have started to get so many larger birds of prey come into care here. Thankfully Vale have amazing facilities to accommodate these birds and have offered their help,” said WRAS casualty centre manager Chris Riddington.

“Trevor and I have been to Vale via road numerous times and its quite a drive. The last time we went it took over 10 hours on a round trip.

“The staff at the airport were amazing, they waivered all of the landing fees and treated us like VIPs, the staff even paid my parking as I didn’t have enough change”

After safely landing at Gloucestershire Graham and Chris were met at the gate by Vales Vet nurse Lucy Kells and the buzzard was transferred safely into their care.

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