Wildlife Rescue Trust
Caring for Scotland's injured and orphaned wildlife  


You might like to view a video made at Hessilhead on Boxing Day. Thanks to Roy MacGregor for giving up his time to do this.

And another more recent video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3SzDTj9eLU

24th June 2013

You must be wondering what has been happening at Hessilhead since the last diary update in May. Well, lots. We have had more than 650 new patients. Many of these are youngsters that have needed lots of care, and we also had a very busy and successful Open Day.

Throughout the month mallard ducklings were rescued from strange situations. Some were in enclosed yards, like at Blades hairdressers in Kilmarnock. Another family group was found walking along the rail track at Queen St Station. Some of our mallards have been released, and one group is has decided to stay at the centre, visiting younger ducklings and gobbling up slugs and worms. We also have a seven tufted ducklings, real cuties.

We reared two clutches of pied wagtails. One nest was found in a pallet of goods delivered to Sainsburyís in Stewarton. As they donate left over bread and veg to Hessilhead, they knew who to call staightaway. All now released.

We have 32 fox cubs now. Most have come as singles, but there was a big rescue in Glasgow, when David and Leianne went underground beneath tenement buildings, into a dark and dingy cellar. They found one cub immediately, and two dead ones. Something made then search further, and they found 5 cubs trapped in an old water tank. They wouldnít have been able to jump out till they were almost fully grown, and their mother couldnít have provided them with food all that time. One cub was very tame when brought here, having been hand reared in a house, playing with dogs. It is integrating well with our wilder cubs.

We have two badgers, one was found in a garden in Lanark, with a badly injured leg, the other was a stunted youngster that had spent two afternoons foraging on a grass verge beside dual carriageway at East Kilbride. They have both made good progress and are sharing an enclosure.

The busy deer season had us out at all hours collecting road traffic accident casualties, and some of them we got back to the wild.

We have hatched more than 100 common gulls from eggs taken from Faslane, where the gull colony in the car park causes problems. All doing well.

Lots of magpies and jackdaws have been successfully reared. The first batch have been released, but some of the very fat jackdaws are still begging for food. In a week or two they will be free as well. Two oystercatcher chicks were rescued from East Kilbride, after falling from a roof. One had a broken leg, that has healed well. They have just started to fly, so will be off on their soon.

Three young Great Spotted woodpeckers are in care now. Still being hand fed, but showing an interest in a peanut feeder. We have enjoyed watching a young spottie being fed by its mum at our feeders.

As our Open Day approached we wondered if weíd have any cygnets for visitors to see. An hour before opening time, our rescue team arrived back at the centre with a family group from Greenock, the losers of the usual battle at the Thom St/ Murdieston Dams. They settled in the enclosure straightaway. I am sure the adults have been here before.. We now have another swan family from Bowling who nested in a silly place and couldnít get their cygnets out of a lock. The next section of canal is occupied by another family group. The 3rd swan family was rescued last night. The male swan was savagely attacked by a dog and is quite badly injured. The female has just one bite on her back, and the little cygnet escaped without injury. The female and cygnet are in one of our enclosures, but the male must stay in the hospital to receive further treatment. Hopefully they will be reunited soon.

Other swans, including two from Castle Semple Loch, have been admitted with fishing tackle problems. One swan endured a lengthy operation to remove a hook from her throat, and another had its foot and leg tied together with treble hooks and a lure.

The late spring delayed the breeding attempts of many garden birds. They seem to be catching up now, and we are extra busy with young birds that would normally have been reared by now, as well as the usual suspects for this time of year. We have released blackbirds and thrushes, robins and dunnocks, blue, coal and great tits, but still have tiny blue tits in care. We have the first swallow chick too.

We have a hedgehog with babies. We havenít seen the babies much, but hope that all is well. This week several emaciated hedgehogs have come into care. We wonder if this is the result of the late spring. We also had a hedgehog that was stuck to a glue board. This is a terrible trap for catching rodents, but is totally unselective and causes much suffering to any creature caught. It took us a long time to remove all the glue.

Andy and I are going on holiday tomorrow. Hopefully when we return our new web site will be up and running, and I promise regular updates to the diary then.

26th May 2013

What a busy week ! Not only with wildlife casualties but with training days and meetings too. We have run two half day Hand Rearing Training sessions and we had 12 students from Kirkless College in Yorkshire for 2 days. They gained a huge amount of experience in handling and treating wildlife, and it was fun having them here. We also had a meeting to discuss a grant application. We are hoping for a grant to buy a new cabin to be used as a classroom. This will make training days much easier to run. Magpie numbers have increased, also dunnocks and robins. No more blackbirds, but we have 2 mistle thrushes and a song thrush. Also 3 pied wagtail chicks. The first young jackdaw is in care, and a clutch of pheasant chicks. We have a young badger that was spending a lot of time foraging during the daytime on a grass verge beside dual carriageway. This was very unusual badger behaviour, but we are still trying to assess why he should have been doing this.

17th May 2013

Yesterday was busy, with a film crew from Maramedia making a programme for Summertime Live. The star of the show was a bat that came from Culzean Country Park. It was filmed being released there in the evening.

A common seal was released today, and the gannet that has been in care for a couple of week went too. Both seemed happy to return to the sea.

Starlings coming in every day now. Some have been removed from houses, others have fallen from nests. Yesterday 4 magpie chicks were brought into care. They had been attacked by gulls. Today two magpie chicks were brought in after surviving a long drop when their nest blew from a tree.

Today we were asked to help two swallows that were trapped behind a wire grill over windows in a derelict building. We couldnít see how the swallows had got into the building, but they had left through a slightly open window and were then trapped behind the grill, that acted as a cage. It was very distressing to see the swallows constantly flying against the mesh. We made several calls to the security company responsible for protecting the building, but no-one could let us in. So in the evening we took a ladder and bolt cutters, and cut a hole in the mesh so the birds could escape. It was lovely to see them flying free.

15th May 2013

This morning we had a 1 oíclock phone call. A fox had been hit by a car in Giffnock, and the police were asking if we could help. Thanks to Gilleathain for staying with the fox, and keeping it in the enclosed yard where it had struggled from the road. The fox, named Bob, has a hairline fracture of a vertebra, and was badly concussed. He needs help to stay in a position where he can eat, but there is a little progress every day. We are hopeful of a full recovery.

14th May 2013

New patients include two nestling tawny owls that were found at the base of a tree near Cumbernauld. They are much too young to be out of the nest. Either something has happened to Mum, or the nest has blown down. They are feeding well and growing quickly.

Yesterday we were asked to collect a buzzard from Swinlees Quarry. The workmen had found the bird trapped on a barbed wire fence. They had already cut the wire and put the bird in a box, and by doing so, they probably prevented a more serious injury. We removed the barbed wire from the wing after giving the buzzard a local anaesthetic. He is looking much brighter today, and is self feeding.

Tom, one of the Ayrshire Bat workers, came in today. He had collected 2 pipistrelle bats that had been sleeping behind a window frame. Unfortunately, when repairs were done, the bats were sprayed with expanding foam. One of them was barely alive, and didnít survive. David did a good job of cleaning up the other bat, and it looks very lively this evening.

Other new arrivals include the first young dunnock, more starlings, a cat victim rabbit, two injured gulls and swan from Castle Semple Loch.

12th May 2013

We have just returned from Hopetoun House where we had a stand at the Scottish Bird Fair. David gave a talk today, and we met lots of interesting people. We got some new members, signed some people up for Training Days, and hopefully more know what to do when they find an injured wild bird or animal.

7th May 2013

The number of babies is building up in the hospital. There are 5 starling chicks and several blackbirds, a fledgling greenfinch, a young crow and today the first magpie chick was brought in. It was rescued from a cat that had climbed high in a tree to take the youngster from the nest. I bet the parents were making a lot of fuss. We have another litter of rabbits, 7 this time, and we now have 21 fox cubs.

Today was one of those special seal release days. The last grey seal of winter was released at Portencross. I am told he couldnít get away quick enough, not a backward glance.

Our year old roe deer have been released and more than half of our over-wintered hedgehogs have gone to release sites. This unusually pale coloured hedgehog was very poorly when she came into care. She couldnít use her back legs, was underweight and had a lung infection. It was a real treat to see her heading off into a woodpile.

5th May 2013

Today Leianne and Eva rescued a fox cub that had fallen into a basement under tenements in Glasgow. Residents had heard the cub calling for help. Apparently it wasnít easy, crawling around in the dark, with the fox cub moving through gaps in walls. The cub could not have got itself, and was quite dehydrated when rescued.


4th May 2013

We ran a First Aid Training Day, attended by 10 enthusiastic people, who learnt how to handle and examine birds, how to bandage broken wings, give a bird fluids by crop tube, catch a swan, hold an owl and much more. Another young tawny owl was brought in during the morning, and made a star performance. Later in the day our first robin fledgling was brought in, having been rescued from a cat. He still has a punky hairdo!


3rd May 2013

A litter of 6 young rabbits was dug up by a dog today. Surprisingly the youngsters are not injured. This evening I gave them rehydration fluid. Tomorrow they will be given Cimicat (Kitten milk) from a small bottle. They are just beginning to open their eyes, so should be nibbling grass soon.

2nd May 2013

Today we had a call from the Police in Drumchapel, asking for help with an injured deer. The deer got trapped in railings, and then someone deliberately set their dog on the deer. Needless to say, the roe buck is badly shocked, and the bites and torn skin needed stitching. He looks quite miserable this evening, but we are hoping to see some improvement by morning.

1st May 2013

Today a goose was brought into care, and with it came an amazing story. It seems that this domestic goose has been living at the mouth of the R Doon in Ayr for at least 4 years. He befriended the resident breeding swans, and even helped to care for their cygnets. During this last winter the old male swan disappeared; the female swan and the gander became inseparable. Today the goose was attacked by a dog, and required veterinary attention. He will need some time to recuperate, but we hope that it wonít be long before he can return to his best friend.

The first starling chicks were brought in today; soon the hospital will be noisy.

An otter was released in South Ayrshire, looking fit and healthy.

30th April 2013

Spring is coming....slowly. We have 17 fox cubs now, ranging in age from 8 weeks to 3 weeks. The oldest cubs have moved to outdoor accommodation. There is a group of 4, the oldest ones, and a group of 5 cubs about 6 weeks old. Today they enjoyed playing in the afternoon sun. The other cubs are still in the hospital; gradually we are making compatible family sized groups. It is much better for cubs to have company than to be kept on their own, but fox cubs fight a lot when young, and they fight seriously. Sometimes cubs can be really hurt. We have already had to take Sox away from two other cubs. He came off worst, but he may have started the fight!


There was another, even older cub. He was found at the roadside and had a badly fractured leg. Sadly he had to be put to sleep.

Two leverets are feeding well now. The older one boxes Leianne when she takes it from the cage at feeding time. The smaller one is a cat victim, still on antibiotics.

The first fledgling, a blackbird, is feeding well and will be moving to a grown up cage soon. There are two tiny naked chicks in the brooder, both just a few days old, a house sparrow and a starling.

Three young hand reared rabbits moved from the hospital today. They will enjoy having more space to jump and play.

The best news is that we have started releasing our over-wintered hedgehogs now. If you can help with a release site, please get in touch.

20th April 2013

It is certainly getting busier in the hospital. We now have tawny owl chicks, a mallard duckling, and 6 more fox cubs (making a total of 11). The cubs are all less than 2 weeks old. One came at lunchtime today having been spotted several times yesterday and again this morning, in a Glenburn garden. Then a litter of three, found in a shed after people moved into a new house, and another two, clearly orphaned. So we are busy giving bottle feeds of rehydration fluid this evening. Other new arrivals include 2 adult blackbirds, a robin, a bat and a mallard drake.


16th April 2013

Apologies. An update is long overdue.

Trash, the little fox cub that was rescued from a wheelie bin a last week is doing really well. Today she was introduced to Truffle, a cub that was found wandering around a courtyard on Monday. The cubs are a similar age, and spend a lot of time sleeping together. We have seen them play fighting too.


Fudge is still alone, much bigger than the other cubs now. She does need company. She is wanting to play with people, but we must resist that. Tame foxes cannot return to the wild. Toffee, another 4 week old cub, came from Bearsden on Monday. She was a bit wobbly on her legs, but has made good progress. Today a cub was trapped between fences in Knightswood. This is another vixen, a sturdy cub that looks good now that she has dried out. Hopefully these cubs will all have company soon.

A sparrowhawk came into care a few days ago. This is a lovely female bird, but sadly she has an injured wing and shoulder. She is restricted to a box now, to give her fractures time to heal. Luckily she is feeding herself.

We have been worrying that hedgehogs might get into trouble when they waken from hibernation. Hedgehogs need to eat lots as soon as they waken, and this year there is little food around as the weather has been so cold. A few underweight hedgehogs have come into care, and we still have all 80 of our over-wintered hogs. We are hoping that this milder weather will last, that plants will grown and bugs and grubs emerge. We donít want to keep our hogs much longer, but after spending so much time with them over the past few months, we want to give them a good start back in the wild.

Other youngsters include two wood pigeon chicks, collared doves and rabbits. No blackbirds, dunnocks or robins yet, but we donít think they will be long coming now. Our first summer migrant of the year came yesterday. The tiny chiffchaff was found on Peterís doorstep, when he arrived home after volunteering at Hessilhead. It must be a collision casualty. It is difficult to hand feed, so we hope it makes a speedy recovery.

You will no doubt be surprised to hear that we have a little piglet! This a Gloucester Old Spot x Wild Boar, that was born at a pig farm on North Uist. Sadly its mother and siblings died, and we were asked if we could rear ithe orphan. Terence is no trouble to feed, unless he grabs your arm instead of the bottle! Of course we must find him a permanent home. If anyone has any ideas or contacts, please get in touch with us.


10th April 2013

The first call today reported a fox cub found in a wheelie bin. She certainly didnít get in there herself, and it was only by chance that she was found before the bin was tipped into the back of the refuse truck. She is tucked up in a heated cage now, safe and sound.

Later this morning David rescued a smart male kestrel from a building in Irvine. No-one knows how the kestrel entered the workshop, but it became trapped between a window and a sheet of plywood. It should be back in the wild in a couple of days.

4 swans were released today, also a pheasant, and a blackbird. A kestrel was released a few days ago, but the hedgehogs are still waiting. It is still too cold with no food available.

8th April 2013

9 lucky young pigeons were brought to Hessilhead today. They were carefully removed from a building before demolition work began. The older chicks wouldnít join the line up!

7th April 2013

It hadnít been a busy weekend until we decided to go out for a meal with Leianne who has just returned to work at Hessilhead. As we drove into the hotel car park the mobile rang. A swan had been attacked by a dog at Barassie, and needed our help. There was nothing for it but to head down the coast and rescue the swan, which has a swollen, and probably very sore, leg. We were all back in the car, thinking about food, when the phone rang again. This time it was a swan in Kilmarnock that had crash landed on a road outside the dog agility club. It wasnít too far to go, and we soon had that swan in the car too. The chips and pakora tasted really good!

3rd April 2013

Three swans rescued in the past few days. All of them found on land, perhaps crash landed, all of them in good condition, average weight 11.5k. We have kept them for observation for a day or two, then returned each to its territory where mates were waiting to nest. I hope all the swans had a good story to explain their absence! Another swan was rescued from the R Garnock , with a treble hook in its wing. This was dealt with on site and the swan released.

Yesterday a badger was taken into care. We had been shown photos of this badger about ten days ago. It had wounds around its head and tail, and seemed to be a victim of territorial fighting. A trap was set in the garden where the badger feeds, and after a few days the badger was caught. The wounds are healing surprisingly well, though one ear is missing. There is a scar right round the neck that suggests the badger has been snared. Perhaps it was released, injured, from a snare, and subsequently attacked by other badgers. At present it is enjoying the comfort of a deep straw bed, and eating well at night. We are delighted that this looks like a badger that will return to the wild.

Other casualties include young collared doves, injured crows, a hedgehog, a young rabbit and there was a road traffic accident deer that didnít survive.

Fudge the fox cub is doing well. She is very independent, feeding herself, and playing with a rolled up sock.

We managed to trap two pet white rats that had been abandoned in a wood near Lochwinnoch.

1st April 2013

Our first fox cub of the year was brought to Hessilhead yesterday. She was found all alone, in a field near Milngavie. She is 3 weeks old, in good condition, and eating well. Her name is Fudge. She still cries a bit for her Mum, but hopefully there will be company for her soon.

30th  March  2013

The past few days have been busy. We have 2 new tawny owls in care. One of them was hit by a car, badly concussed, sore eye and sore wing, but looking better now. The other one may also have had an accident, but is underweight and needs plenty of good feeding before it can be released. Today a buzzard was brought in from Livingstone. It has been in the care of 2 vets for a few days. It was very poorly when they took it into care, but with lots of professional treatment it is looking quite strong now. It has a problem with the talons on one foot, but we hope that this will repair.

Yesterday a shag was brought to us from the coast of Fife. Louise, who found the bird, regularly comes to Hessilhead with casualties. She was particularly worried about the shag that she found on Thursday evening, and was on our doorstep at 8am next day. It is wonderful to know that people care so much about injured wildlife, and will go to so much trouble. Good news too, the shag is eating well and looking good.

On Thursday David and Sigurd rescued a young roe buck from Stevenston Beach. Sadly it had a badly broken leg, and was emaciated. It was PTS.

We rescued a swan from Kilwinning and removed fishing tackle, and today a swan was rescued from Victoria park. Other new arrivals include collared doves, young pigeons, a small rabbit, an adult blackbird, a crow, a pheasant and a hedgehog. Sadly, the fox that was brought to Hessilhead today, was in very poor condition. The 2 vets that were on site agreed that it should be PTS.

25th  March  2013

Karen and Neale have just done another successful rescue in Gourock. They spotted the seal pup on the beach, far away from water, when on their way to the Vet. The pup was still there when they were returning home, so they suspected there was a problem. As they approached they could see a lot of blood around the sealís face, and blood on its flippers too. Neale crawled along the beach till he was close enough to net the seal, and it seemed quite comfortable in the back of their van when they arrived here. It has been treated with wormer and antibiotics, and given a drink of rehydration fluid. It will need more fluids later this evening.

Yesterday we rescued a buzzard from Kilmacolm, and today a razorbill was picked up in Paisley!

10th  March  2013

Despite the chilly weather and snow showers, we managed two more releases this weekend. On Saturday we released a song thrush that had been in care for a few days. When we first tried the bird in an aviary earlier this week, its flight was very feeble. We tested it again yesterday and it flew well, and a short time after its release it was feeding on soft fruit on the lawn.                                  


This afternoon we released the water rail at Lochwinnoch. This bird was quite weak when it came into care, and although it sometimes looked interested in mealworms, it didn't pick up much food for itself. So we have been crop feeding it with AD diet. it had gained some weight and was so lively that it was difficult to catch in the cage. It hurried into the reed bed, and although we saw it eating some tiny aquatic creatures, my attempts a getting a photo were pretty dismal. Never mind, the bird looked good, it was definitely time for it to go.


8th  March  2013

Today we released the buzzard that was found on the M8 at St James Interchange a few weeks ago. We took it close to where it was found, and it flew across fields at Candrens, appearing to swoop with delight at being free once again.

7th  March  2013

Apologies for no news recently. Andy and I had a holiday in the south of England, and attended a meeting a Secret World Wildlife Rescue. It was good to meet up with other people running wildlife rescue centres, to discuss their new ideas, plans and share their enthusiasm for helping wildlife casualties.

Yesterday was big day for Hessilhead. The two remaining seals were released at Portencross harbour, and apparently took to the sea like ducks to water!. The bigger seal, John Muir, weighed over 60kg, and Pudding weighed alomost 50kg. That should give them a good start to learn how to cope on their own in the wild. You can see from the pics below that they looked in excellent condition. John Muir still has a scar on his neck from the deep gash that required stitching when he came here.


We have just collected a rather unusual patient, a water rail. It is very quiet and underweight but doesn't have any obvious injuries. It is now in a heated cage with a variety of tempting titbits. and has been treated with antibiotics and vitamins.

17th February  2013

There haven't been many new casualties this weekend, well not since a buzzard was delivered at 1am on Saturday morning. The bird was found on the M8 near St James Interchange. It was brave of someone to stop and pick the bird up, and kind of them to drive it to the centre. The bird was quite shocked and disorientated when it arrived, but now it is perching and feeding itself. It will soon be back in the wild. Another buzzard that came in starving is also doing well. Last week we had 4 emaciated buzzards brought in to Hessilhead. They were all weak, unable to stand, and much to our dismay, they all died. It is relief to have a survivor this time.

An injured roe deer has been keeping us busy. She was taken to our vet at Cumbernauld on Wednesday, and transferred to Hessilhead next day. She is still badly concussed, but has been drinking well today, and this evening she ate some carrot and apple, with a lot of encouragement and a little help.

Just thought you'd like to see whooper swan, looking much better than when the last pic of him was taken.


15th February  2013

We have just returned from releasing the barn owl that Andy and I rescued a few nights ago. We took her to a quiet lane off the main road, and let her fly from the box. She floated over the fence and flapped her way across the field, before we lost sight of her against the trees. We thought that was show over, but as we got back into the car she landed on a fence post in front of us. She circled over us a few times before heading off across the fields. It was a lovely successful ending to our unexpected rescue.


13th  February  2013

Yesterday was quiet till lunchtime. Then David took a call about an injured swan lying in a field between Beith and Dalry. We weren't sure if the swan was alive, or even if it was a swan, but David was soon off on the rescue. He returned some time later with a whooper swan under his arm. Whooper swans are usually much more aggressive then mutes, but this one was feeling sorry for itself. It had apparently collided with an overhead power line, and had a nasty gash on its head. Later in the afternoon David stitched the torn skin, and of course the swan was given antibiotics. By that time Andy and I had set off for Ballantrae, where another swan was reported with a drooping wing. Ballantrae is almost two hours drive from Hessilhead. We followed directions down a rough track towards the sea, and found the swan in a very big field. Fortunately the person who reported swan came to help, and between us we cornered and captured it. Its wing is bandaged and it is eating well on the indoor swan pond. A jackdaw was brought in from Bearsden, and another starving buzzard from Eglinton Country Park. Then as Andy and I were returning from a night out, we spotted a barn owl perched on the white line in the middle of the road. We turned the car and drove back, hoping that other cars on the road had avoided it. The owl was badly concussed and easily lifted. No bones broken though, so hopefully it will be back in the wild quite soon. We noticed that no other cars stopped; lucky for the owl that we were on that road. Our student Lindy had admitted a magpie while we were away. It was badly concussed too, but is lively and up on a perch today.


Just one swan admitted today, an underweight adult from Lanark Loch. Eating well this evening but will need worming.

 9th  February  2013

It was late afternoon when we got a call about an oiled swan yesterday. The swan was at Old Kilpatrick, trapped in a concrete pit that had been used for oil storage during the war. It was impossible for the swan to get out of the pit, and it was heavily contaminated with oil. We set off with ladders, but forgot the bread!. After some exploration of the derelict site we found the casualty, and luckily the pit was only 5' deep, not the 10' that we expected. The swan didn't try to get away when Andy lowered himself into the pit. It was soon under his arm and being handed up to David. In fact Andy had more trouble getting himself out. By that time his hands and boots were  well lubricated!


Back at the centre the swan was given fluids with activated charcoal added. This would absorb any oil that the swan had swallowed. Later in the morning Kirsty, one of our faithful volunteers, transported the swan to the new Scottish SPCA centre for cleaning. Hopefully it will come back gleaming white.

Other casualties admitted yesterday included two buzzards from Eglinton Coutry Park, both emaciated, a roe deer road casualty and a white fantail. Another emaciated buzzard came from Langbank today, also a blackbird with a leg injury.

7th  February  2013

Spring has sprung at Hessilhead!  Three baby rabbits arrived today, and these were closely followed by a mistle thrush chick. The mistle thrush came from Skypark, at Finnieston. Only a couple of hours earlier, we had speaking about mistle thrushes, and how most of the fledglings brought to Hessilhead come from the city centre! This chick is very early, and it isn't surprising that it has a calcium deficiency. Lets hope the treatment works. The rabbits were discovered in a builders bag of sand.



The magpie chick that came in this evening, thought he would have a look around the hospital before being taken from the box!            

5th February  2013

February can be a dreary month, with wintry weather still making outdoor work unpleasant at times, and spring seeming to be a long way off. A visit from Simon King was just what we needed to lift our spirits. Simon spent many weeks at Hessilhead when he made the wildlife drama 'Carna the Otter'. It was wonderful to watch him working with Flow, the young otter that we were rehabilitating, and between filming sessions he helped to rescue wildlife and build new enclosures. This week Simon is working with The Caravan Club, and opening the Scottish Caravan and Camping Exhibition on Thursday. The film crew picked up some video of our seals, hedgehogs and foxes. This will be used to publicize the work of Hessilhead, and will hopefully feature in a Caravan Club magazine, letting members know who to cal should they find any wildlife in distress.


23rd  January  2013

Cumbrae was released today, weighing 47 kg. It was a lovely day at Portencross, blue skies, flat calm, just perfect for a seal release. Even the tide was in our favour. The carrying box was lowered over the harbour wall, and carried a few yards to the water's edge. It didn't take Cumbrae long to leave the box and after a backward glance he swam off slowly. He explored the harbour for a while, then ventured out to sea. Another grey seal swam past but ignored Cumbrae. Cumbrae was still heading out when we left, swimming  confidently towards Little Cumbrae. Recently we have been spending £500 a week on fish. With one seal gone 10 boxes of herring will last a bit longer, though Pudding and JM are growing fast, and their appetites are likely to increase.


22nd  January  2013

Today JM the grey seal pup had alternate stitches removed. you remember he had the awful cut behind his head. It has healed really well, and now JM and Pudding seem to enjoy each other's company in the indoor seal pool. When they were first introduced Pudding was a bully, not allowing JM near him. JM is bigger than Pudding, but Pudding was there first!


Sadly the half grown otter that came on Sunday didn't survive the night. Only then could we see the extent of the damage under her chin. About a third of her jaw bones were exposed and dry. She would have been euthanased after examination by the vet.

20th  January  2013

The week ended on a sad note with us having to bring one of the young otters back from the release site in Morvern. It had been attacked by a local male otter, and had bites all over its body. These were infected, and the youngster had taken to using the sleeping box again. It was only because Matt still had trail cameras set that he picked up the problem. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to catch the otter till it was really ill, and it died last night, despite all our efforts to treat it. Being a young male is tough in the wild. Even more so if you are a bit inexperienced when you come across an aggressive older animal.

Strangely, another young otter came into care today. This cub is barely half grown, it has a nasty wound under its chin, plus some infected bites on its head. We have cleaned it up but it will need veterinary attention tomorrow.


Two more swans in care are doing well, one from Bingham Pond in Glasgow, that seemed at first to have had a crash landing, but is now showing signs of lead poisoning. An adult swan from Irvine was the victim of territorial fighting, and is also underweight.  A swan was rescued from Auchenharvie on Friday. It was thought to have flown into a fence, but could have been hit by a vehicle, and had irreparable fractures.

A male kestrel, also a collision victim, has a swelling on its head and an eye half closed, but has eaten, so must be feeling better.


15th  January  2013

Two swans came into care today. An immature swan made a mistake by landing on a school playing field in Saltcoats. The grass probably looked good, but the swan found it didn't have enough space for a run prior to take off. It was soon captured by David and Hazel. This swan is ringed. It is a young swan that was in care at Hessilhead last year. It was good to see it again today. The bird is a good weight, obviously doing well. The other swan landed on the road near the Clyde Tunnel in Glasgow. It caused a bit of traffic chaos before being removed from the scene and brought to Hessilhead. It doesn't seem any the worse for its mishap.

We hoped to release another buzzard today, but when we checked its weight we decided another week of good feeding would give it a better chance of surviving the winter. It will be wormed again tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be good again next week.


12th  January  2013

Two buzzards were released today, and we have another one ready to go. Three cygnets and an adult swan were released on Thursday. But the last thing we needed was another hedgehog. The little hog was found at Mugdock yesterday afternoon. At 340 gm he has run out of stored fat and energy, and was trundling around in the daytime hoping to find some food. He has settled in well and is already gaining weight.

8th  January  2013

Yesterday we had an unusual request from the Sea Mammal Research team at SAC Inverness. Would we pick up a dead dolphin from the beach at Ardrossan.  We couldn't find it yesterday, and ran out of daylight. Today Andy and I and Mel went for a walk on Stevenston beach, and found the carcase. It was a mile or so from the car park, so we summoned up more help from Hessilhead. Between us we carried the dolphin, on a stretcher, to the van. A pathologist from SAC will collect it tomorrow. A pm will reveal the cause of death, and hopefully help the scientists to understand more about the life of dolphins and the problems they face. It is a common dolphin, about 5 long, and heavy! There are a couple of deep cuts that may have been caused by propellers, but we'll see what the experts say.


Yesterday Saturday's seal pup was taken to the vet to have its deep wound cleaned and stitched. Of course it had to be sedated, and we had a worrying few hours as it took a long time to recover from the sedation. It was breathing less than once a minute! Today it has been hand fed fish, as well as having more fluids.


6th  January  2013

Yesterday a seal pup was found on the beach at North Berwick. It was tangled in fishing net, and once the netting had been removed, it was clear that the pup had been suffering for quite some time. The pup was transferred to Hessilhead. We were horrified when we saw the the extent of the damage. There is a deep open wound across the seal's neck, and this was full of infection and necrotic tissue. We cleaned up the wound, and have been applying manuka honey regularly. The seal is also receiving two courses of antibiotics and painkillers.  This is a big seal pup, weighing 21kg, though by the length of the pup and the size of his head, we assume he weighed more than that and has lost weight while being tangled. Although big, at present he is docile. Just as well, when we open his mouth to give him fluids, he displays an impressive set of teeth!   

The first pic of the wound was taken yesterday. You will see that it is looking better in the next pic, taken today


Pudding is self feeding now. He quickly progressed from taking sprats, to eating sardines, and now herring. He just keeps eating all day long!


2nd  January  2013

The first patient of the year is a buzzard, followed by two swans and a blackbird. The buzzard was clipped by a car but its underlying problem is malnutrition. The cygnets were the losers in a territorial dispute. They were chased away from a breeding patch on the Clyde by the resident pair of swans, and were not allowed back onto the water. The blackbird is a cat victim, bitten but lively.

1st  January     2013

Welcome to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue, 2013. We are starting the year on a high. Cumbrae, the older seal is feeding well and piling on the weight. Pudding, the grey seal pup is taking sprats that are offered by hand. He is remarkably good tempered for a grey. He is still on antibiotics, but we are pleased that his infected wounds seem to be healing well.


The 76 hedgehogs are wintering well, though their daily cleaning and feeding is time consuming. The latest arrival is a hog that was disturbed during hibernation. Just what we didn't need!

Our 4 hand reared badgers have moved into a huge enclosure. The first night they checked the perimeter fence. Had there been a weak point they would have been out! There are many badger nose shaped holes, a sure sign that they've been digging for worms, and there is the start of a new sett. So it seems we have 4 happy badgers.

The recent cygnet casualties, victims of discarded fishing line and lead poisoning, are now all feeding well, living in the swan hospital and enjoying their daily swim. Three buzzards are thriving, and a tawny has moved to an aviary too. The last couple of days has brought us a few cat victims, robins, starling and waxwing. What is going to be the first patient of 2013?

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us during the past year, and those of you who have taken the trouble to stop and help injured and orphaned wildlife.

Best wishes to you all for 2013


Click here for Gay's Diary, 2012