TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Screams in the night are just conversations between foxes

The young tawny owl which was rescued near Hassocks faces a long way to recovery.
The young tawny owl which was rescued near Hassocks faces a long way to recovery.

We must say a big thank you to Sainsbury’s Heathfield who have chosen us as their charity of the year. Members of the public nominated us and after being short listed I did a presentation to members of staff and a few days later we received the news that we have been chosen.

So we hope to be visiting the store on a regular basis and working with the staff to help raise funds for WRAS and the people and animals we help. Thank you Sainsbury’s and to those who nominated us.

We must also thank customers and staff at Jollyes Petfood Store at Hailsham who invited us to have a display outside their store last Saturday. We raised £145 and will shortly find out how much was raised in store too via the cake sale and guess the weight of the cakes and number of dog biscuits in the bucket!

We are at the Lammas Festival, the Western Lawns on Eastbourne seafront at the weekend, so please come down and see our new display. The will be numerous stalls, a parade, refreshments and music all weekend too.

It has been a busy summer with up to 200 casualties in care at a time, so we need help rebuilding our much needed funds. Kathy and I will be there most of the weekend as we are short on volunteers due to the holiday season.

This young tawny owl was brought in last weekend from Hassocks by our rescuer Tony. On arrival he noticed a significant amount of fly strike on the bird’s chest and beak, so he rushed the owl to the centre. Our weekend team, Chris and Kirsti, noticed that some of the eggs had unfortunately turned into maggots in the owl’s mouth and spent over an hour cleaning the eggs and maggots away and gave him some much needed TLC. He also is suffering from canker, which is affecting the roof of his mouth. After some fluids and food he perked up a bit, but he has a long way to go before being releasable.

Rescuers have been busy with multiple gull calls this week that have fledged and landed on roads. These have included calls to a gull next to the Lottbridge Drove, Cross Levels Way Roundabout; a gull outside Gaby Hardwick Solicitors in The Avenue, Eastbourne; a gull with a broken wing at Queens Road, Hastings; one in Vale Road and another on the A259 near the Buckle By-pass in Seaford and many more.

Sadly quite a few have been too badly injured to come into care and have had to be taken straight to the vets. Please be careful when driving as the youngsters tend not to move out of the way. Unfortunately some drivers do not slow down and possibly run them over on purpose, this is a criminal offence and can be reported to the police.

This beautiful brown long eared bat was brought to us at the centre after being caught be a cat. We also had a couple of calls to geese crash landing too. One was reported wandering long Lottbridge Drove in Eastbourne which we couldn’t find, but the other one at Battle was rescued and is now in care. The goose has damaged its keel but seems to be recovering well.

One of our rescuers has had to go to Lewes Prison again, the fourth time this year they have called us out for various injured wildlife and gull chicks, luckily our rescuers were released afterwards!

As this year’s young foxes start to disperse and explore more, the number of road casualties has continued. We have been called to four road casualty foxes this week which have all had to go straight to the vets due to severe spinal injuries. The first was on the Highfield Link at Hampden Park, the second was at Church Street in Uckfield in the early hours of the morning, the third was from Ratton Drive, Eastbourne, and the fourth was from Willingdon.

It is the time of year when people to start complaining about the number of foxes and noise. Fox screams often wake people and we received a variety of calls from people saying something is being killed, a fox is being injured or a fox is killing something without actually seeing it, but these noises are no more than fox conversations. These noises normally occur just for a short term and mainly occur late summer and autumn when juveniles are dispersing.

More foxes are seen at this time of year and many people complain that they are overrun with them. Foxes, like all carnivores, will self-regulate their numbers and will be limited by the amount of food and territory available.

Foxes are also nature’s dustbin men and pest controllers, and help keep our environment clean and tidy, getting rid of dead animals and birds, as well as dropped food and also helping to keep the rat and mice population under control.

Young foxes will replace the number of foxes which have been lost since the previous breeding season.

Although you will see siblings together during the summer playing, they will become loners when older, not pack animals, and the family usually disperses by late autumn. Foxes are sometimes incorrectly referred to as vermin. They have never been classed as vermin by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the only body empowered to impose the term on a wild species.

Other calls this week have included a few juvenile blackbirds caught by cats, including one from Ringwood Road, Eastbourne; a hedgehog from Hankham which turned out to be pregnant and was released again. There was also a pigeon which hit a window in Camber Drive, Pevensey Bay. A large 995g hedgehog came into care as it was found out during the day and will hopefully be a quick turnaround. There was also a call to a predator attacked baby woodpecker in Bexhill which turned out to be a colourful Jay with minor injuries.

We have also managed to soft release a number of gold finches, green finches, doves, linnets, sparrows and our two tawny owls too.

An unusual rescue was to a gull caught up in a tree at Denton, Newhaven. Ladders were needed for the rescue. The gull has injured his wing and there were fly eggs all over it as a result of being caught for so long. The bird is now in care but we hope it will make a full recovery.