Swanning around in flooded field causes undue concern

Trevor Weeks - Swans at norman's Bay''22-02-13- SE
Trevor Weeks - Swans at norman's Bay''22-02-13- SE

WRAS had a call about these swans at Normans Bay, from a lady worried they couldn’t fly out of the small flooded field and that they had been there for a couple of days.

Despite knowing the field would be big enough, we attended anyway to ensure the swans were in good condition, fit and healthy, which they were.

We also checked the rest of the surrounding area in case we had the wrong location but this was the only flooded field in the area.

There are quite a few swans in various fields across the Pevensey Levels at the moment. It’s not uncommon for swans to land in fields as they are grazing birds. As well as eating grass they will also fly into fields and eat crops like oil seed rape. They will often return to the same field day after day if the food source is good, flying in at dawn and flying out at dusk to avoid predators.

We do occasionally find swans in fields where they have struck overhead cables. In 2002, I spent over two weeks working with the Swan Sanctuary at Monkton Marshes near Ramsgate, Kent, after a flock of more than 220 swans was reduced to just 30 birds after hitting power cables over at least an eight week period.

Sadly the problem was only discovered after about 180 birds had died. Some died of their injuries others died after being attacked by predators. A number of them were rescued and taken to the Swan Sanctuary.

I lived on site in my ambulance to provide onsite rescue and care, to save any additional swans which hit the cables and to prevent any further deaths. The electricity company eventually placed bird diverters on the cables to make them more visible to the swans. Since them no further swans have hit these cables. EDF Energy have worked very closely with the Swan Sanctuary in putting these bird diverters in place to help reduce swan deaths where they clash with cables.

We have had several emaciated birds in this week. Sadly many of them have not survived due to how severe the emaciation has been, with their digestive systems closing down. However, a couple of birds have done okay but are still on liquid feeds little and often. Many of these birds are suffering from illnesses related to eating poor quality food which is contaminated.

We have just launched our 2013 Grand Raffle. We are really pleased with the prizes which have been generously donated, ensuring that 100 per cent of the raffle money again this year goes directly to helping WRAS help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. We would like to express our thanks to our sponsors who are The Real Eating Company, Lewes; Ghost Hunt Events Ltd; Bills Restaurant, Lewes; Yum Tum Ninja Restaurant, Brighton; Terre a Terre Restaurant, Brighton; Fishy Fishy Restaurant, Brighton, and the Buxted Park Hotel near Uckfield.

The raffle will be running all year and additional tickets will be available at all WRAS’s events as well as from Paws and Claws Pet Shop in Olive’s Yard just off Uckfield High Street, as well as from WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith. Please support our sponsors and say thank you to them if you go to see them.

Have you heard of Geocaching? Well, I’ve always been a fan of encouraging people to get out and about rather than spending all day playing video games. Geocaching is in effect an online treasure hunt, where people place caches all round our community for other people to find using a GPS device, from something as simple as a mobile phone. There are hundreds of caches around all our towns from very small nano cases which can be thimble sized containers, many are 35mm film cases, and some are much bigger lunch box or tool cases sizes! They all have a log for you to write your name and date to say you have found the cache. I am in the process of placing a number of caches for people to find and to learn more about wildlife. Just go to www.geocaching.com and enter your town or postcode and a list of caches in your area will be displayed. I have placed a couple, one at Whitesmith, and a couple in Uckfield but plan to place more in a series about wildlife as an educational tool to get people exploring the countryside. It’s great fun. The website is free to use and many caches have unusual backgrounds.