GAY'S DIARY, 2008
30th December 2008
Andy and I have enjoyed working more closely with the
patients while our staff have hopefully been enjoying the festivities. We have
had plenty of help from our dedicated volunteers and Karen, our new centre
manager has been working too. We appreciate this help; it has allowed us to
spend more time with our new puppy, Mel.
We have had new arrivals every day over the holiday season;
some of course take up more time than others. Two days before Christmas Sara
called. Sara is one of our trustees, and I expect that the last thing she needed
when on her way to Sainsbury's for her big Christmas shop, was to find an
injured roe deer on Loch Lomondside. Sara got help to lift the injured deer into
the back of her vehicle, and drove straight to Hessilhead. The deer didn't look
good, bleeding from its mouth and badly concussed, it was barely conscious. We
didn't hold out much hope. Today the deer panicked when we opened the shed door.
That is always a good sign. Over the past few days it has been eating well, and
we expect it will be released early next week.
Christmas Day brought a surprise patient from Beith. The
little otter cub was curled up in an old tyre beside a track used frequently by
dog walkers. The cub was much too small to be out of the holt; the usual reason
for this is that Mum has gone missing, and the hungry cub has followed her
scent, desperate for food. The cub must have run out of energy, and now it was
really cold too. We hurried back to the centre and put the cub in a heated cage.
We soon discovered that this cub has attitude, sharp teeth and doesn't
like fish. With several punctured fingers, I have now called a truce. The cub is
drinking milk from a bottle, and only gets angry when the bottle is empty. I
leave fish with the otter every night, hoping it will realize that otters eat
fish. So far no luck. I'll have to try hand feeding it again in a day or two.
On Boxing Day a family arrived with a tawny owl that they had
found hanging from a barbed wire fence. The owl looked awful, lying in an open
box. it could have been dying. We made the owl comfortable on a heat pad, after
giving it painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Later examination revealed a
badly strained shoulder, and a lot of tissue damage to the wing equivalent of
our forearm. The owl made a remarkable recovery from the trauma. From night 2 it
was feeding itself, and chewed its way out of the cardboard box. The owl is
really fit and strong, but we are still not sure whether the wing will recover
fully. An owl that cannot fly perfectly cannot return to the wild.
11th December 2008
A couple of days ago Gareth and Lisa from Shanwell were back.
This time they had a whooper swan with an injured wing. Whooper swans are a
totally different patient to our resident mute swans, that frequently literally
eat out of our hands. Whooper swans are wild and stroppy. They are difficult to
feed in captivity. For two days the swan has been confined to a shed, where it
has hardly eaten anything. Today we moved it to the wildfowl enclosure. Here it
has company of mute swans, and will hopefully join them at feeding time. The
swan certainly looks more relaxed than it did in the shed, but I guess it might
be a different story when it is time for antibiotics tomorrow, and we have to
10th December 2008
A few days ago we got two more pipistrelle bats that had been
disturbed in a roost. This posed a problem for us. These bats would have been
hibernating in these sub zero temperatures, and it was a bit difficult
knowing whether to warm the bats, and feed them, or keep them cool, and hope
they would hibernate in care. We decided it would be best to give them
rehydration fluids , then decide. They are quite active, so they are in the
heated hospital, and are being fed each day for the time being. This evening we
admitted another bat. This is a long-eared bat that was found lying on frozen
ground outside a farmhouse. Presumably there is a roost in the roof space, and
for some reason the bat came out. No wonder it was found moribund. It had little
hope of surviving without being rescued.
Photos of long eared bat roosting and waking up, ears extended
waking up, ears extended
9th December 2008
A week ago we arranged to release seals today, weather
permitting. The weather couldn't have been better. It has been a bright sunny
day with just a light wind, although at Portencross that wind went straight
through fleece jackets. Two seals were taken on the first trip, and set off to
sea with barely a backward glance. We made another trip with the Renfrew seal,
as he was also up to weight, and we wouldn't get a better day for him to go.
This seal set off riding the waves. How do they know how to do that when they
haven't been in the sea since they got into trouble as small pups several months
ago? He swam a little way out, then came back. It seemed he wanted to play the
What is going on today?
Wow, look at all this water!
Are you sure I'll be ok
The release was filmed by a team from Advocates for Animals.
It will be used in the campaign for better legal protection for seals. For more
information see their web site www.lookoutforseals.org
8th December 2008
This morning one of our buzzards was collected for release.
It came from Crocketford, near Dumfries, a week ago. The bird had flown straight
through a bedroom window. That was bad enough, but when the house owners went up
to see what had caused the breaking glass, they found not only the buzzard, but
also the rat it had been carrying. This bird was in good condition, just a
little concussed and confused. It was good that Emma, an SSPCA ambulance driver,
could collect the bird and take it back to its own patch. Hopefully it will
avoid windows in future.
5th December 2008
I had a call this morning from Gareth, who runs
Shanwell Wildlife Rescue, based in Dundee. He was wondering if he could
bring a grey seal pup to Hessilhead. The volunteers at Shanwell do a great job
covering a wide area of Tayside and Perthshire, rescuing a wide range of
wildlife. However, their facilities for keeping long term patients are limited,
hence the call for help. Gareth and Lisa arrived mid-afternoon. They had already
given the pup fluids, and treated the wounds on his back and flippers. He needed
more fluids when he got here, and we gave him antibiotics and wormer too, as he
has a nasal discharge. Hopefully the pup, named Dundee, will soon respond
to treatment. he is our first grey seal pup this year
4th December 2008
Karen, our volunteer in Greenock, never fails to carry out a
successful rescue. I'd a call this evening about a seal pup on the slip at The
Royal Gourock Yacht Club. The person calling said the pup had been there for 4
days. It was odd that we hadn't been told about this seal before, but if it had
been there all that time, it certainly had a problem. Karen was keen to go,
although it was dark, and the pup was said to be close to the water. I wasn't
surprised to get a call an hour later, from a jubilant Karen, saying the pup was
in her van. There was a slight problem. On her way to the rescue, Karen had
stopped for fuel. In her excitement she'd put unleaded petrol in her diesel van.
Her car spluttered to Gourock, and after completing the rescue she topped it up
with diesel. Rather surprisingly, she arrived here safely, and the van got her
back to Greenock too! The seal is a common seal pup, suffering from lungworm and
associated infection. It has been given fluids, wormer and antibiotics.
Hopefully we will see an improvement by morning.
2nd December 2008
This morning Andy and I went out for an injured swan. It
was on the boating pond at Craig Tara Holiday Village, near Ayr. The swans
were at the opposite end of the pond to where we parked, but there was no
mistaking the injured bird. Its head, neck and back were completely covered
in blood. Despite its appearance, the swan came walking towards us for
bread, and we soon had it in the swan bag in the back of the car. It seems
to have been bitten by a dog, and although there are puncture wounds on its
neck, the injuries are not as extensive as we had feared. Already the swan
is cleaning itself up be swimming and bathing on the swan hospital pool.
In the afternoon there was another swan rescue. A swan had
landed on the roof of the Rivergate Shopping Centre in Irvine, and had been
spotted by residents of the nearby high rise flats. We have rescued swans from
this roof before. The roof comprises a series of ridges, and a swan in the dip
between the ridges is unable to spread its wings enough for take off. Neither
can it climb up the ridge. This particular swan was quite obliging, and
came walking towards Andy. Its cut leg will soon heal, and we'll release it on
the river where the swans are fed by many people every day.
30th November 2008
We were a bit puzzled today when we received a call about an
injured hawk trapped in a gully. I asked if anyone could catch the bird, but a
second call indicated that this would be impossible. It was a great day for an
outing, so Andy and I set off for Stair to assess the situation. We could see
the problem. The buzzard was on a branch at the bottom of a disused lade. The
sides of the lade were vertical, smooth concrete and about 8'deep. There was
some water in the bottom of the lade, and an unknown depth of mud. Reaching the
top of the lade involved scrambling down a steep bank, with little vegetation
and loose soil and frost. Both ends of the lade were closed, but the
section where the bird was trapped was about 80 yards long. Then it went under
the road and continued for another 200 yards or so. So assuming the bird could
not fly, if someone went into the lade, and didn't sink, it would be possible to
catch the bird, Andy slithered down the bank, and lowered himself into the
lade. He then decided he'd like the long pole, that was in the van,
the van key was in his pocket. So it was my turn to slither down the bank to
collect the key. Key in pocket, I tried to retrace my steps. Impossible. I kept
slipping down the bank, and if I missed the tree at the bottom, I'd be in the
lade too. The two men who called us out came to my rescue and hauled me up the
bank. Andy felt more confident with the pole, but soon discovered that the ankle
deep water went over the top of his wellies! The buzzard made a feeble effort to
escape, then tried to hide in a rhododendron bush. Andy didn't even net the
bird. He lifted it from the branch, then used the net to pass the bird to the
team on the bank. Then came the real problem. How was Andy going to get out of
the lade. When standing on tiptoe, his finger tips just reached the top of the
concrete. There was no-one in at the 3 nearby cottages, where I'd hoped to
borrow a ladder. Eventually Andy found a crack in the concrete, close to a
flimsy bush on the bank. With much huffing and puffing, he hoisted himself up,
till he was within reach of helping hands from above. Whew!. I thought we were
going to have to call for help!
28th November 2008
By the time I was giving the deer their late afternoon feed
today, it was already frosty, so the last thing we expected this evening was a
call about a bat. This particular bat was flying around the restaurant at the
Uplawmoor Hotel. I gathered that customers and staff were not amused. Of course,
in the heat of the restaurant, the bat was very active, swooping over heads and
around the Christmas tree. Andy and Leianne went to the rescue. It didn't take
them long to corner the bat among some tinsel. The bat is an adult pipistrelle,
and looks as if it is good condition for the winter. We can't release it during
this cold spell of weather, but as soon as we get a mild evening, we will take
the bat back to Uplawmoor.
25th November 2008
It didn't come as surprise when someone phoned a couple of
days ago, saying they had picked up two injured birds, that they thought must
have escaped from an aviary. A dozen or so of the birds had been feeding outside
their office all day, eating berries. We knew straightaway that these would be
waxwings. Hundreds of these migrants have arrived in Glasgow during the last
couple of weeks, having flown all the way from Russia. They feed mainly on
berries, especially berries on ornamental trees planted in parks and gardens.
They allow people to approach quite closely, and they look very exotic. It isn't
surprising people that people think these birds are escapees.
20th November 2008
We have admitted lots of buzzards recently, but today it was
the turn of a sparrowhawk to get into trouble. It is a lovely adult female bird,
with dark orange eyes, and was found in a garden in Ayr. I expect the bird had
collided with a window while in pursuit of prey. She is slightly concussed, has
a left shoulder injury, and I'm sure feels fairly sore all over. For the short
term the sparrowhawk will stay in a cardboard pet carrier. Sparrowhawks are
nervous restless birds, and in a cage they fly against the bars, often damaging
their face or feathers. On admission the bird was given rehydration fluid, and a
little while ago she was hand fed a chick. Maybe she will she one of the few
sparrowhawks that learnt to feed themselves quickly. Some of them are reluctant
to feed while in care.
17th November 2008
Today was special. The little red squirrel that has been in
care for the last month, has gone home. The squirrel had a nasty leg infection,
that required several visits to the vet and a minor operation before it healed
properly. In fact it hasn't healed 100%, but the squirrel dashes round its cage
with ease, and we hope it will have no trouble coping in the wild. The squirrel
has returned to its own garden on the Isle of Arran, where it, and 10 other
squirrels are regularly seen at the peanut feeders.
15th November 2008
Although hedgehogs are winning the most numerous casualty
award, buzzards are coming in fast too. Most of these are road traffic victims,
and fortunately, most of the recent arrivals have had minor injuries and made
good recoveries. Today we released the Hessilhead reared buzzard. The Bishopton
buzzard was released last week, and tomorrow a lovely big bird will be released
close to the papermill near Irvine. I expect it hunts rabbits at the roadside,
and that may get it into trouble again.
12th November 2008
Without a doubt, hedgehogs have been the most numerous
patients recently. Most of the arrivals have been autumn juveniles, that are too
small to hibernate successfully. They are usually found wandering in the
daytime, and this tells people they may have a problem. they certainly do. The
average weight of recent arrivals is about 250gm. to hibernate, a hedgehog
should weigh 600gm. So these youngsters have a lot of feeding and growing to do.
It looks as if our hedgehog hospital will be a busy place this winter.
5th November 2008
We are never surprised to get a call about a woodcock in the
autumn. The call usually coincides with the arrival of European migrants, and
what surprises most people is that most of our woodcock come from Glasgow. We
think they must get confused by bright lights. The woodcock that came in today
has an eye injury, and is a bit subdued. It was given fluids as it didn't seem
likely to eat. Hopefully it will start eating tomorrow. The trouble with
woodcock is that the only food we can ever persuade them to eat is earthworms.
They eat an awful lot of earthworms. Digging will commence tomorrow morning!
There was a surprise in store this evening, when Leianne met
someone coming along our drive, with a tawny owl perched on the front passenger
seat of his car. He had lifted the owl from the middle of the road, barely half
a mile from the centre. Not surprisingly, this owl was ringed, and we soon
discovered that it was one of the young birds reared and released this year. The
good news is that the bird is in really good condition. Bad news that it was
clipped by a car, but no bones broken.
3rd November 2008
This evening we were on our way to a meeting of the Scottish
Ornithologists Club in Glasgow, when we received a call from a lady in
Kilbarchan, telling us there was a goose on her doorstep. She lived in the
village, and we assumed that the bird would be a domestic goose that had
wandered away from home, not too far away. We said we'd collect it on our way
home. Leianne went into the house to collect the visitor from the back door, and
we were surprised to see her returning carrying a Canada goose. Presumably the
goose had collided with overhead wires, and tumbled onto the lady's step. it
must have been at least confused, perhaps a little concussed, as it had been
there for several hours. We arrived back at Hessilhead, with the goose still
sitting on Leianne's lap. Although it can stand, it seems reluctant to do so.
This is another indication of a crash landing.
29th October 2008
Yesterday we had an unusual call, reporting a tawny owl
caught in a Larsen Trap. Andy and I went to rescue the bird, which looked really
miserable. Although the people who found the owl had opened the trap and moved
away, the owl hadn't left. This was a sure sign that the bird was cold and
stressed. A quick examination indicated no serious problems, but we decided to
take the owl back to the centre, as it didn't look up to coping on its own.
Larsen traps can be used legally for trapping crows and magpies. A decoy bird is
kept in one compartment of the trap, and the other compartment is set to catch
visiting birds. The intention would not have been to catch an owl; that was
accidental. However, I bet the owl had suffered a miserable night, being scolded
constantly by two magpies. By this afternoon the owl was bright and active. It
had eaten, and we decided that it should be returned to the wild as soon as
possible. It flew strongly from the carrying box. Hopefully it knows all about
Larsen traps now, and will keep its distance.
24th October 2008
We had a call from an SSPCA Inspector today, asking if she
could bring an injured buzzard to the hospital. Of course that wasn't a problem,
but what a surprise it was to discover that the young bird was wearing a BTO
ring, and it was one of the young buzzards that we had reared at Hessilhead
earlier this year. You may remember that the youngsters were dumped in a black
bag at the Vet surgery in Maybole. We had no idea
where they came from, though we guessed that someone had felled their tree. We
released the youngsters from Hessilhead in August, and now this bird was back.
It had been picked up in a garden outside Mauchline, so it had travelled quite a
distance. It is a fairly good weight, so has been faring well, and has probably
been battered in the storms of the last two days. There are no serious injuries,
and this evening the bird is eating well in the hospital cage. Hopefully it will
be soon be off on its own again.
21st October 2008
You can probably imagine our disappointment today, when a
lady called to inform us that a fox was caught in a snare near Kilwinning.
We went straightaway, and found a very distressed and muddy fox struggling to
escape from a snare that was attached to a fence wire. The snare was set beside
a ditch, so as the fox struggled, it had made mud, and when Andy lifted the
animal muddy water poured from its fur. We soon had the snare off the fox, and
the fox into a carrying box. Its mouth is damaged from where it has been chewing
at the snare, but fortunately there are no other injuries. We will keep the fox
for a couple of days. It will clean itself up and hopefully the swelling on its
gums will subside. We must release it in the woods where it was found. Hopefully
there are no more snares there.
19th October 2008
We've just had a busy weekend, that started with the arrival
of an injured tawny owl late on Friday evening. The owl looked fairly concussed,
but a quick examination indicated that no bones were broken. The owl was treated
with anti-inflammatory drugs, made comfortable in a cardboard box, and left on
a heat pad overnight. On Saturday morning the owl still looked a bit groggy, but
there has been some improvement now, and we are hopeful of a complete recovery.
On Saturday morning patients were queuing up for treatment. There were two swans
from Hoganfield Loch in Glasgow, one with a tumour, the other too weak to stand.
Three hedgehogs, two of them very small, late autumn babies, and an older hog
with front leg injuries. A guillemot was found on Irvine beach, a pigeon came
with an old wing injury, and a barn owl, another RTA, came from Dunoon. This owl
sadly was in a really bad state, with one wing almost severed. The only option
for that bird was euthanasia. During the day 11 Uist hedgehogs went off to their
release sites, and a tawny owl was collected by the people who found it. They
were delighted that the owl had made a good recovery from a fractured leg, and
were pleased to take it back to St John's Town of Dalry. At lunchtime Andy
and John went to the assistance of a swan on Kilbirnie Loch. Someone had noticed
the swan having trouble swallowing. Andy discovered a common problem. The swan
had swallowed fishing line, and a loop of line had caught under the beak,
preventing the tangle of line down the throat from being swallowed completely.
Andy was able to put pressure on the line, feel a little movement, that told him
there wasn't a hook, then pull a little harder. A great tangle of line and
food was pulled from the bird. It must have felt a whole lot better then, and
went off to feed straightaway.
When Karen left after her day of volunteering, she took a
barn owl that had been found not too far from where she lives. The owl had been
found on the road a few weeks ago, and had a shoulder injury. We had given the
owl a test flight, and knew that it had fully recovered. Karen met the finder,
and the owl was released close to where it was found. I bet that seeing the owl
fly free was a memorable sight.
We finished the afternoon feeding and thought that was it for
the day. Then the phone rang. Someone had moved a deer off the Stockiemuir Road
in Glasgow. He would stay with the deer till we arrived. So off we went, with
blankets and a sedative for the deer.
The man with the deer couldn't believe that a driver had hit
the animal and then driven away, nor that other people were driving past it!
Today has been quieter, with only 7 new patients. Would you
believe that one of them, a hedgehog, came from St John's town Of Dalry. That is
a long way from us, yet it has featured twice in 2 days! We had hoped to
release more hedgehogs this evening, but the weather has turned very wet and
windy. We've decided to put that off till the weather improves.
16th October 2008
It is a week for unusual patients. Today we had a call
reporting a small seabird found on the beach at Fairlie. The bird was tangled in
thread, and tangled in the same thread was a dead bird of the same
species. It was lucky that one bird had managed to get ashore. I was a bit
puzzled when I saw a grey and white head with a black beak peeping from the box.
I had to take the bird from the towel to identify it as a black guillemot in
winter plumage, so not black at all. The giveaway was its bright red feet, and
the large white wing patches. The guillemot's leg and wing, where the thread had
been pulled tight, are very swollen The bird is very lively though, and we
hope that it will soon be back at sea.
13th October 2008
The roe deer is recovering slowly from concussion. She can
stand on her own now, drinks from a bowl and eats slices of apple that we slip
into her mouth. Her eye is still sore and swollen, but we think she will make a
A red squirrel was brought across from Arran today. She has
an abcess on her hind leg, probably the result of being bitten. She will be
treated with antibiotics and hopefully will be fit to return to Arran sometime
12th October 2008
The long-eared owl was really restless when I moved it to an
indoor flight yesterday, so early this evening we took it back to Crosshill, a
village not far from Maybole. The owl was out of the box straightaway. It flew along the river then up into trees. The owl had been found
lying on the road a few days earlier. It had certainly recovered well from its
11th October 2008
Andy and I were away for a few days this week, so we've spent
today getting ourselves acquainted with new arrivals. In the hospital there are
more juvenile hedgehogs. Most of them were found out in the daytime, trying to
find food that will help them to put on weight for the winter. There isn't much
food available now, and most of these hedgehogs would die if they were not
brought into care. Even in a heated cage some of them struggle to survive. They
have been so long without sufficient food, and for much of the time they have
been cold and wet. So all these juvenile hedgehogs are pampered. They are
treated with antibiotics and vitamins, they are kept on heat pads till they
weigh over 250 gms, and are offered a wide variety of food to tempt them to eat.
It looks as if the next few months might be busy with over-wintering hedgehogs.
We were pleased to see that most of the Uist hedgehogs that weighed over 600 gms
had been released in our absence. There is no point in keeping these healthy
hogs. They need to be released in time to make nests for hibernation. A
young gannet had arrived yesterday. It seems strong and stroppy, so should be
heading back to the sea soon. Other newcomers include a long-eared owl, a badly
concussed roe deer and a guillemot.
5th October 2008
Andy had an unusual rescue today. We had a call from
Saltcoats, reporting a squirrel trying to climb the sea wall. The squirrel had
been in the sea and its feet were bleeding. Andy encouraged the squirrel up the
wall, whereupon it ran off quickly. We wondered why the squirrel was there. The
area around the harbour isn't really squirrel country. Surely someone hadn't
trapped the squirrel then tipped it into the sea as a convenient means of
disposal. On other occasions we have had calls from people who have used humane
traps to catch squirrels in their loft, then wondered how to get rid of them. I
wonder why these traps are described as 'humane'.
4th October 2008
We have had a few barn owl casualties recently. There have
been road traffic casualties, a youngster found tangled on a barbed wire fence,
and an oiled bird. I washed the oiled bird today, a bit of a worrying
experience. Barn owls don't look all that tough, there isn't very much of them
under their soft white body feathers, and I wondered how it would take to a wash
and blow dry. The owl looked pretty miserable while the washing was in progress,
but its feathers dried quickly in the gentle heat of a hair drier. I returned
the owl to its cage with an electric radiator on high, and soon the owl was
preening and looking relaxing. It isn't pristine clean yet, so I guess another
wash will be required.
2nd October 2008
Andy and I are just back from Stevenston Point, where it was
pretty wild and windy. It was a good trip though. We released the Red Throated
Diver that was brought to Hessilhead last night. The diver was found sitting in
the middle of the road at Fenwick. It must have made that classic mistake of
landing on a wet road, thinking it was water. The person who found the diver
said that it was really lucky. As he drove around a bend there was the bird,
sitting in the road. It was sensible of them to stop and lift the bird. as it
would have probably been impossible for the diver to take off from land. Divers'
legs are right at the rear end of their body, designed for maximum propulsion,
not for walking or taking off. Before heading off to the coast, we gave the
diver a swim in a our seal shed. It looked 100% fit on the water, diving
straightaway. It has been a real privilege to handle such a special bird.
Certainly a day to remember.
29th September 2008
There has been an influx of fishing tackle casualties
recently. First to come was a well grown cygnet, that had a length of line
hanging from its mouth. Someone noticed that the cygnet had difficulty
swallowing. A large tangled mass of line was pulled from the cygnets throat, but
still a couple of strands of line remained, and when pressure was put on these,
there was resistance. Luckily Andy arrived home then. He is the expert
with this problem, and seems to know instinctively if there is a hook in the
throat or not. Obviously, if there is a hook, it isn't wise to pull the line.
But if the line has been down the throat for days, it does take quite a lot of
pressure to remove it. Gently Andy pulled the line; nothing happened for
minutes, then a swelling appeared half way down the neck, and as Andy maintained
the pressure the swelling rose up the neck. Another ball of line and food
emerged, much to the relief of the cygnet. A swan from Eglinton park was caught
and had hooks removed from her leg, and a shag was brought up from Troon,
tangled in hooks and line. three hooks were caught on its wings and legs.
23rd September 2008
The hand reared bats have left the tunnel now, and some
juveniles that came have now moved into the tunnel prior to release. We had a
more unusual bat visitor recently. This was a Natterer's bat, found in a factory
complex at Dalry. It looked a bit sad when it first came in, but within a few
days it was eating well and then we gave it a test flight in the hospital. It
was much larger than the pipistrelles, and flew really well. David enjoyed
releasing the bat close to where it came from, and managed to track it with his
20th September 2008
During the last 2 weeks, we have been busy releasing the last
of the summer's hand reared birds, and all of the fox cubs have gone too. The
fox cubs cubs were released in suburban areas, as that is where all of them came
from. They are released at night, and often we se resident foxes foraging in
gardens, waste ground and shrubberies. This is an indication to us that we have
chosen a good area. Our foxes will follow the resident ones, and will soon
discover where food can be found, and where people are leaving food for them in
Blackbirds and robins where among the last garden birds to be
released, but as usual, the last small birds to go were house martins. We had
reared a lot; they came mainly because their nests had collapsed in spells of
rainy weather. They are time consuming to rear, but they do eat quite large
helpings of mince, supplemented with mealworms. All were released at house
martin colonies, so straightaway 'our' hand reared birds had adults and more
experienced youngsters to follow. They have time to practice flying and feeding
before heading off to Africa for the winter.
The hand reared kestrels and some of the tawny owls were
released at Hessilhead. Then came the birds that had been hunting for
themselves, kestrels, buzzards and sparrowhawks, all taken back to where they
11th August 2008
Like other parts of the country we've had our share of heavy
rain recently. Yesterday brought the first casualty from the floods. The otter
cub was noticed on the banks of the River Ayr, close to the town centre. It was
squeaking loudly, which attracted attention, and trying to scramble from the
water. The Fire and Rescue Service were soon on hand to help the cub, and by the
time we arrived at the Fire Station, the cub had rubbed itself dry in a dustbin
lined with shredded paper. He is eating well, but we feel quite sad that we
don't know where he came from. He must have slipped into the water, and been
carried downstream. If only we knew where his mum lived, we could take the cub
9th August 2008
I have been away quite a bit recently, enjoying some
fantastic weather in the Highlands. There was lots of wildlife, amazing scenery
and hardly any people. We walked, we relaxed and we watched porpoises, otters,
sea eagles, red deer, divers and lots of sea birds.
Back at Hessilhead many of the patients are growing up. The
shelducks, the kestrels and two young buzzards have been released. Two batches
of young gulls have been taken to Troon harbour, though another 50 or so are
still eating lots and messing lots. They do take quite a lot of time to care for
properly. The young bats are feeding themselves now, and late at night we see
them exercising in their tank. Soon they will move to the bat tunnel, prior to
release. Some tawny owls have moved to a release aviary, but several young barn
owls have recently come into care. The weasels have gone, and we heard that they
often return to their pen for food. Finches, sparrows, robins and dunnocks have
been released too.
We have a long eared bat in care. It was rescued from a
fly paper, and is still a bit sticky on its back.
We have 4 common seal pups. Two of them came from Arran, one
from Prestwick and one from Culzean. The Culzean pup had fishing hooks in its
mouth and flippers, was tangled in line and lucky to be found before it drowned.
The other pups must have been separated from their mums and were underweight
when they came here. Two of the pups are eating well now, the other two have be
tube fed with blended fish, but hopefully they'll learn to eat whole fish soon.
Photos of the Prestwick seal Brodie from Brodick Dustin from Culzean Arran no 2
6th July 2008
It is still busy at the Wildlife Rescue Centre, We admit
between 10 and 20 patients most days; many of the youngsters are growing up,
feeding themselves and becoming independent. In the hospital there are fewer
baby birds to hand feed. Most of the finches, blackbirds, dunnocks, robins and
tits have moved outside, though I dare say there will be a few latecomers. House
martins and swallows are occupying the heat pads. Most came from nests that
collapsed during the heavy rain of the last week or two. Some of them were close
to fledgling when they got into trouble, and have already been released.
Photos of a blackcap recently released.
We are into the baby bat season. Rearing bats is time
consuming, with those less than two weeks old requiring feeds every 2 hours. 12
came from one abandoned roost in Fife, and others have fallen from roosts and
been found in the living space of houses. David and Shelby have been taking the
bats home in the evenings and at weekends. This has saved a lot of time in the
hospital. This evening I'll need to do a few bat feeds though. Another 7 bats
have just arrived.
We have also taken in a several young raptors. There are 7
kestrels and 2 young buzzards. The buzzards were left in a black bin bag at a
vet surgery in Maybole. I guess we'll never know what happened to their nest.
There is also a young barn owl, still white and fluffy, that fell from a nest
that was difficult to access.
It is the height of the young gull season. Some have been
only a day or so old when brought to the Centre. They had fallen from rooftop
nests. Most of those coming in now are well grown, and some will be flying in
another two weeks. At this time of year we get a lot of calls from people
wanting us to take away gull chicks, because they don't like the adult gulls
coming down to feed their chicks, or swooping at people to protect their
offspring. We already have 75 young gulls in care. The last thing we want to do
is take healthy young chicks from their parents. If people don't like gull
chicks in their garden, they should take steps to prevent the gulls nesting on
their roof before the start of the breeding season.
Recent releases have included the Canada geese that we reared
this year. Also a leveret and several rabbits. The stoats and weasels are living
outside now, soon to be released. Many young mallards have flown from our
enclosure to the quarry pond, but fly back for visits. The duck that nested
beside our seal tank is back on the lawn every day with her 11 ducklings. Most
of the hand reared crows, rooks, jackdaws and magpies have also been released,
though many of them are still returning regularly for food.
Photos of the Canada geese studying their new home.
18th June 2008
An early call today saw Andy and I heading to the south side
of Glasgow, where a family of swans, 2 adults and 5 small cygnets, were camped
out in someone's garden. We discovered they belonged on a dam the other side of
the motorway. They left the dam via a burn, then walked along the tunnel under
the M77. It was a long walk for such small cygnets, and not a safe place to be.
We have arranged for a barrier to be built across the tunnel entrance, so the
family can still safely feed in the burn, then return to the dam.
There was sad news later today. The deer fawn that was
injured in the fire looked very sad this morning, and has since died. Poor
little thing. If only people would think of the consequences before setting fire
to grassland for 'a laugh'.
Two female mallards with ducklings in tow were released from
Hessilhead today. We also opened aviaries for magpies and greenfinches. The
Canada goslings are growing well, and seem to be intrigued by their new
neighbours, a duck and ducklings rescued from the Caledonia University campus.
17th June 2008
A TV crew from Animal 24/7 have just spent another 2 days at
Hessilhead. They were keen to film the 2 otter cubs, Yorkie and Brook,
especially as Brook had already been filmed when he was in care at Secret World
in Somerset. The otters are secretive and nocturnal now, but with patience and
tempting bits of fish, they were captured on film, playing in their pool and
snuffling around their enclosure. I didn't think the stoats would co-operate at
all, but when they were moved to their new enclosure, they were keen to explore
the branches, logs and leaf litter. They should be stars. I checked the stoats
sleeping box today, just to make sure they were ok. An angry hiss made me jump
back. I was certainly not invited to the house warming party. Also featured for
the programme was Sausage, the little weasel that we have hand reared. He opened
his eyes yesterday, just in time to look his best. By coincidence another weasel
was found yesterday. It had been left on a path for nearly 2 hours, and
was really cold when he came to Hessilhead. He spent the night under a heater,
drank warm fluids, and looks fine today. So sausage will soon have a friend, and
arrangements are to made for him to return to the area where he was found. The
new weasel will be released with him.
15th June 2008
It has been a busy weekend of feeding, cleaning and moving
birds to aviaries. The last thing we needed was a late call on Sunday evening.
It was certainly an emergency. There has been a big grass fire on the hill
behind Greenock, and the firemen have rescued two roe deer fawns. One of them is
singed, both were distressed. Our volunteer in Greenock was soon on the case.
The fawns were checked by a vet in Greenock, then two of Karen's helpers brought
the fawns to Hessilhead. We have given them fluids, rescue remedy, and settled
them in a cage for the night. One fawn has lost his outer coat, his eyelashes,
and has a burn on his nose. He is certainly giving us cause for concern, but
14th June 2008
Today's patients included a female hedgehog
with 3 new born babies. The family had been disturbed while people were
clearing up their garden, and before they spotted the hoglets, they had
completely destroyed the nest. So please take care while gardening.
Hedgehogs often built nests under low bushes, pampas grass, sedges, grasses
and decking. It looks as if this female will rear her babies despite the
disturbance, but this isn't always the case. Sometimes we have to hand rear
abandoned babies, and sometimes female hedgehogs eat their young because of
the disturbance. It would be much better if an untidy corner could be left
in a garden, and the hedgehog rear her family there.
A roe fawn that came in earlier in the week,
after being in collision with a motorbike, has moved out of the hospital
now. She drinks milk from a bowl and eats lots of vegetation. 4 more fox
cubs came this week too. They are all doing well, sharing an enclosure.
10th June 2008
It is a pity we can't stop patients coming for a few days
around the Open Day. We have been really busy recently, with lots of orphan
nestlings and fledglings, that demand huge amounts of time. Today there was a
deer rescue too. David and Leianne went to the Diageo complex at Braehead. A
young buck had wandered in through the main entrance, and had spent 24 hours
pacing up and down the fence, trying to find a way out. It was unlikely he would
find the gate again. Our team soon had the deer netted, and he was released in
woodland away from the busy roads. This evening we released the last of the
winter's seal pups, Honey. She had attained her target weight and was keen to
go. As soon as she left the carrying box she was heading off to sea. she
diverted to the pier at Portencross, perhaps curious to see what the anglers
9th June 2008
We are all feeling tired but very satisfied with
ourselves today. Our Open Day yesterday was a great success. More than 1500
people attended, enjoyed the guided tours, chanced their luck on the games and
bargained at the bric a brac stall. If you missed it, make sure you come next
year. It will be held on the 2nd Sunday in June.
Photo of Phil Cunningham, our patron, enjoying the Open day.
OPEN DAY 8TH JUNE
WE ARE ALL BUSY GETTING READY FOR OUR OPEN
DAY. IT IS GOING TO BE GREAT DAY. SEE YOU THERE.
7th June 2008
I apologise for the lack of news recently. It isn't that
nothing has been happening. Quite the opposite. there has been so much happening
I haven't had time to sit at the computer. We admitted 580 patients in May.
So here is a quick update on some our patients.
The best day was when we moved 46 hand reared starlings out
of the hospital. Starlings are characters, but also noisy, greedy and messy. the
peace in the hospital was wonderful. Yesterday we opened the starling's aviary.
they got excited about that, chattering among themselves and moving closer to
the open hatch. It seemed like they were saying ' Go on, you go first' . Later
in the day there were starlings zooming all around the centre. We all felt
The hospital didn't stay quiet for long. There are blackbird
and thrush chicks, lots of blue tits and great tits, a nestful of goldfinches,
greenfinches, and even two cockatiel chicks.....no, they weren't found in the
wild. Jackdaw chicks are making even more noise than the starlings did.
Most of the mallard ducklings are quite big now. there is a
clutch of 3 smaller ones, and they have a little eider friend. We also have 5
A few mammals have been coming in too. There are two stoats,
both of them narky and independent. I don't think they will have a problem
returning to the wild. A little weasel is much more gentle. He still has his
eyes closed, is about 4" long, takes milk from a bottle and nibbles meat. We
call him Sausage.
The roe fawn that came into care last month has been joined
by a really tiny fawn. I think she thinks the older fawn is her Mum. More
unusual for us is a Red Deer calf. She was found beside her dead Mum at the
roadside. No prizes for guessing how she came to be called Dotty.
The last of the Uist Hedgehogs were delivered to us last
Saturday. That made a total of 204 for this spring. Most of them have already
18th May 2008
We have had a wide range of patients today, including 2 roe
deer,( one a RTA and the other bitten by a dog) 2 fox cubs from different
places, 3 swans, several starlings, a hedgehog, and two magpie chicks,
still in their nest, though their tree had been felled. Two of todays patients
have already been released. First was a swift, found on the ground with a cat
nearby. The swift wasn't injured, and must have collided with something that
brought it down. Once on the ground a swift cannot take off, owing to its very
short legs and very long wings. The cat must have just been passing when it
spotted the swift. As a precaution we gave the swift antibiotics, then it it
into the field for take off. There was no wind, so Andy threw the swift, and
straightaway it started flapping. Soon it was darting after insects. It was good
to see it, steadily climbing higher and looking so much better in the air than
in a cardboard box!
Late this morning a collared dove was brought to the
hospital. It had managed to get into a squirrel proof nut feeder, and while it
was being removed its wing was damaged. In fact the damage looked worse than it
was. We cleaned the wound, and gave antibiotics, and after a while tested the
bird in an aviary. She flew perfectly, and later was returned to the garden and
17th May 2008
Today started well. We gave the female woodpecker, that was
brought to us yesterday morning, a test flight in an aviary. She flew strongly,
and although her eye was still sore, we decided it would be best if she was
released close to where she was found. The bird almost certainly had a nest,
probably with young now, and would be really stressed if we kept her any longer.
We phoned Mr Dempster, who had found the bird on the road, and he was delighted
to come and collect her. Hopefully by now the woodpecker is back with her
15th May 2008
It has been hectic here for the last 10 days, with 10 - 20
patients admitted each day. There have been several nests of starling chicks.
Most have been removed from the roof space of houses, because people didn't like
the noise of chicks being fed early in the morning. One nest, containing 4
hungry chicks, was found in a skip just before the contents were to be crushed.
There are quite a few blackbird, song thrush and robin chicks, mostly cat
victims, and we have 3 mistle thrush chicks, all doing well. It is always the
case that most of our mistle thrush casualties come from the the city centre.
There have been more fox cubs. Most are living outside now, in family sized
groups. One is a cheeky cub that must have been in care before it came here.
Hopefully it will learn that it is a fox, and shouldn't be friendly with people.
The 1st roe fawn came really early this year. She is a
sturdy fawn that soon learnt to feed from a bottle. Sadly the next fawn to
arrive didn't survive.
We are still getting hedgehogs from the Uists, and also quite a few
casualties locally. One recent casualty had a condition peculiar to
hedgehogs, known as pop off syndrome. She had been tangled in string and
caught on a fence, and in struggling to free herself, her coat of spines had
slid up over the hips (popped off). Andy got her to relax and her skin
returned to its proper place. Her strained leg has recovered too.
We haven't has so many ducklings this week, but 5 Canada
Goslings were brought in after 2 of their siblings were killed by a breeding
pair of swans sharing their loch.
Several more tawny owl chicks are in care, all doing well. An adult kestrel,
brought in suffering from concussion, is ready for release, and an adult
tawny is ready to go too.
Last Wednesday Andy and I made a hurried day trip to
Yorkshire to collect another otter cub. This cub has been in care at Secret
World in Somerset, but has come to join Yorkie, the Yorkshire cub. They are
now in adjacent enclosures, getting to know each other. Soon they will be
move to a larger enclosure with pond, but we must wait a while. When we went
to prepare the enclosure we found a dunnock's nest with 2 chicks.
soon as they fledge the otters can move in.
The older otter that came from Ayr is eating well and
gaining weight, but she is still very steady with people, and still under
This is the busiest time of year for rta deer casualties.
Sadly many of them are badly injured, and must be euthanazed, but not all.
Last week one was in care for a few days, made a full recovery and was
released close to where he'd been found. Last night we rescued another from
the dual carriageway close to Kilwinning. He is looking quite bright this
Today we hope to move some of the older hand reared birds
to aviaries. The greenfinches and robins look really good, and the thrushes
too. Their place in the hospital will soon be taken by new arrivals.
4th May 2008
It isn't a pteradactyl chick, it is a young magpie. The first of the year, found
on the ground this weekend, and apparently none the worse for its fall.
The first weekend in May used to be the start of our
young tawny owl season, though this year several chicks arrived earlier.
Nevertheless, we have had two young owls brought into care, and given advice
about another. Some organizations say that young tawny owls found on the
ground should be left alone for their parents to rear. We don't believe it
is quite as simple as that, and in order to find out more about the
situation we will ask lots of questions. Today a lady called about a chick
she had found in a wood. it was a fairly quiet place, so children and dogs
were not likely to be a problem, though she said there were foxes in the
area. The owlet, she said was about the size of a small coconut. A bit
small, I thought, to be out of the nest. I asked the lady to put the owl on
a branch, to see if it could perch and stay there. It fell to the ground,
and we decided it would be best to see the chick. The chick is here now, and
it is a nestling, not a fledgling, so it should still be in the nest. It
spends a lot of time lying down; it wouldn't have perched successfully, and
is unlikely to have survived if left in the wild.
The second owl to arrive is even smaller. It was found at
the base of a tree. It had probably fallen from a nest there, and has a
fractured leg. So there is no doubt that this chick needs help.
Today 10 ducklings were rescued from the Whyte & Mackay
building in Glasgow. This is an annual event. The female mallard nests on a
terrace garden, and when the ducklings hatch there is no way for mother to
get them to water unless the ducklings jump to the ground, landing on a busy
Glasgow street. The staff in the building are used to this event, and have a
duckling rescue box ready for when the ducklings hatch. They catch the
ducklings, keep them warm and safe in the box, and we collect them and bring
them back to the centre. Now they are in a brooder, dabbling in a shallow
dish of water, learning to feed themselves.
1st May 2008
We had the first call of the year about nesting starlings
today. Usually, we won't remove starlings from the their nest, especially if the
reason for wanting them removed is that people don't like hearing the chicks
being fed at 5am. That is precisely why we won't remove them. Hand rearing
starlings isn't easy. It involves early starts and feeds every half hour till
dusk. Anyway chicks do better with their parents. House holders need to be
patient. Within two weeks of a complaint the chicks will have fledged. Then the
entrance hole should be blocked, so the starlings cannot nest there again next
year. Today's case was different. The starlings had built a nest, a very
substantial nest, in a cupboard directly above a bed in a fairly small bedroom.
At the foot of the bed was the baby's cot. The starlings had accessed the
cupboard via the hole that for the central heating pipe. The people in the house
didn't really want to separate the chicks from their parents, but it really
wasn't a healthy situation. So the chicks are at Hessilhead, only a few days
old, but feeding well.
30th April 2008
It has been a day of rescues. The first call from a sheltered
housing complex, Bonnie Leslie Court, in Stevenston. Some of the residents had
been watching 2 fox cubs for the last few days . They were living on a small
grassy bank in the burn that runs beside the unit, and because it was raining
heavily today, they were concerned that the cubs may get washed away. We spotted
one of the cubs almost straightaway. It was sleeping in the grass, which was
unusual on such a wet day. We could see that the cubs must have fallen off the
wall on the far bank of the burn, and although their mother may have been taking
food to them, there was no way the cubs would get back up the wall for weeks.
Andy went round the waste ground over the burn, and tried to sneak up on the
sleeping cub. He was quite close before the cub heard him, and I was horrified
when the startled cub jumped into the burn to escape. It ran up the burn,
fortunately keeping to the shallower parts, crossed a small island, splashed
through water again, then climbed onto another grassy bank beside the wall.
Gaynor and I lost site of the cub then, and hoped that it wouldn't follow the
burn under the road. Andy slithered his way across slippery stones, and found
the cub trying to hide in long grass. He didn't even have a net, but the cub lay
shivering, and he picked it up without any trouble. Sadly we found its sibling
The cub sleeping on the bank
Andy carrying the cub to safety
Bonnie drying out at Hessilhead
We arrived back at Hessilhead at the same time as Leianne and
Katrine. They had been to Paisley, where a mallard duck with 13 ducklings had
been found in a garden in a built area, a long way from water. It was unlikely
that the duck would successfully lead her ducklings to water, as that would
involve crossing busy roads. We will keep them together at the centre for a
couple of weeks, till the ducklings are bigger and have a better chance of
surviving in the wild. Then the family will be released together.
53 Uist hedgehogs were delivered late this afternoon, then
Shelby went to get a swan from Castle Semple Loch. She was soon back with a swan
with a very sore leg. It will be taken to the vet tomorrow.
29th April 2008
A fulmar was found on the road on the island of Great Cumbrae
today. It was taken to the Marine Biology Lab there, boxed and put on the ferry
to Largs, and one of our couriers brought the bird to Hessilhead. A fulmar is an
unusual patient for this time of year. The bird is in quite good condition, both
weight wise and feather wise, but looks like it might have had line around its
legs. It may be a breeding bird, so we hope it will make a quick recovery and
return to the coast.
28th April 2008
A couple of weeks ago we had problem with gulls getting
caught in a net over a building near Prestwick airport. The net is there to stop
gulls nesting on the roof of the building, and that is perfectly understandable.
We kept getting calls to say that gulls were trapped in the net; one gull died
after hanging for hours, and we can't reach the gulls, as the building is 4
stories high. We reported the problem to the owners of the building, and to the
pest control company that had erected the net. We thought the problem had been
solved, till today. Two more gulls were trapped in the net. Late this afternoon
they were rescued, but both gulls have damaged legs, this evening they are
unable to stand and needless to say, are very stressed. One of the gulls arrived
with net still wrapped around it, and that explained the problem. Instead of a
1" net being used, a 3" net has been stretched over the roof. This is no use, as
when the gulls land on the net, their legs go through, their wings get tangled,
and sometimes heads get caught. We have again reported the problem, and hope
that a 1" net will replace the 3" one that is trapping birds and causing them to
27th April 2008
The busy spell continued over the weekend, with several lots
of nesltings now being reared. First came a nest of greenfinches, found after a
tree had been felled. The a family of robins. Their nest had been built in an
old exhaust tube (robins are renowned for using unusual nest sites), but had
been found by children who taken some of the chicks away. Fortunately this was
discovered by the mother of one of the children. She gathered the chicks
together, returned them to their nest, and called us for help. The robin family
are feeding well, and they are sharing their new woolly hat nest with a younger
house sparrow chick. The sparrow is younger than the robins, but is often the
first to beg when we open their box.
25th April 2008
Andy and I came back from a 5 day trip this evening. It was
supposed to be a break before the busy season really got underway, but there was
something wrong with our timing! Our dedicated staff had been run off their feet
the whole time we were away, and had dealt with 75 new patients, several of
which they had been out to rescue.
Among the new arrivals is an adult weasel, that was sent here
by the vets in Cumnock. Apparently she was very lethargic when she arrived; some
heat, TLC and food seem to have done her good. She is now racing around her
cage, and looks like she will soon be ready for release. A sparrowhawk was
rescued and made a very fast recovery, It was released the following day. An
otter was difficult for Shelby and Leianne to catch. It was found in the middle
of Ayr, and was hiding under cars. At one time it was balancing on the exhaust
of our ambulance, but eventually they had it caught, boxed and back at
Hessilhead. She is a young adult female, very thin but eating well. 2 more fox
cubs joined the 3 in care, and 2 more leverets came. That was sad. They had been
born in a garden, a garden where hares were unwelcome, and we were asked to take
them on. Reluctantly the staff had agreed, knowing that really they would be
better with their Mum, but that the gardeners were not going to allow them to
The first 20 mallard ducklings were rescued, more baby
rabbits, an adult tawny owl, 33 hedgehogs from the Uists, a buzzard and a long
eared owl chick. The owl was unfortunate too. Its nest was in a badly blown
shelter belt that was being clear felled. I don't suppose the trees had
been checked for nests, and the first anyone knew of the family was a single
owlet spotted on the ground. There had probably been other chicks, but they
weren't found. At least this one wasn't injured, has a good appetite and is very
These pics are just to show you how relaxed the resident birds
are at Hessilhead!
It feels more like spring in the hospital today. The first
leveret of the year was delivered last night. She is less than a week old and is
in good condition. She even had a full tummy of milk. Next came a family of 3
young blackbirds. They were all chased out of their nest by a cat, one of them
has bites and crushing injuries. At their last feed of the evening, half an hour
ago, all were begging for food and eating well. Other arrivals included another
tawny owl chick, and a young collared dove, also dropped from a tree by a cat.
We admitted 2 swans today too. The first one was rescued from Irvine harbour by
a our volunteers Paul and Toni. It has a serious head injury, possibly caused by
dog bites, and is a swan we know, ring number 3BIP. This swan must be accident
prone; she has been here several times before. This evening Andy and I went to
Loch Lomond for another swan. At first it looked like we wouldn't lucky. The
people who called us had fed the swan almost a loaf of bread in their efforts to
keep it close to the bank. This had worked, but when we arrived the swan wasn't
hungry. We only got it because she chased the geese that were eating the bread
we hoping to tempt her with. I bet she feels better now though. We have removed
a treble hook from her leg.
Andy and I were out this evening releasing hedgehogs, when we
received a call about an injured bird of prey. A farmer had seen the bird being
attacked by crows, and he had managed to get it into his car. We arranged to
meet and collect the bird, which is a handsome female peregrine. She is
underweight, and has an old injury to the end of her wing, and another on the
back of her leg. Perhaps these two injuries made it difficult for her to hunt
successfully, and brought her down in condition. The strange thing is, that when
we collected the peregrine, she had a full crop of food. Peregrines rarely eat
any food unless they have caught it themselves, but I guess this bird must have
found something tasty. She has settled in a hospital cage now, and will
move to aviary in a few days. Hopefully we will return her to where she was
15th April 2008
It is cold and wintry at nights, although during the daytime,
when the sun shines, it can be quite warm, The frosty nights and chilly days
seem to be holding back the breeding season, and perhaps some of the youngsters
that have been in trouble, havn't survived in the cold long enough to be found
and rescued. Nevertheless, patients arrive every day. Here are the stories of
some recent casualties.
Castle Semple Swan Reported as having a
problem with fishing tackle. David went to check on his way home from work, and
was soon back with a large male swan, with the biggest fishing hook we've ever
seen embedded in its leg. Apparently these big hooks are for catching pike. The
hook was removed, the swan given antibiotics for 3 days, then it was taken back
to Castle Semple Loch.
Fox Cub no 2 Her eyes were just opening,
she had been found in a school playground, she was small and weak. I was
surprised when she showed an interest in tinned food later that evening, and
before long she was feeding herself. Unfortunately this little cub has
taken several fits. they occur less often now, and are less severe, so hopefully
she will grow out of them.
Greedy Heron This bird in breeding
plumage thought it handed lucky when it spotted some large fish in a garden
pond. Unfortunately it didn't see the fine strands of line across the pond,
designed to keep herons out. The bird got well and truly tangled, had to be cut
free, and some abrasions on its wing. It soon recovered from the ordeal, and was
released 2 days later, hopefully to resume rearing chicks.
Uist Hedgehogs A batch of 33 hedgehogs were
delivered. We had hoped to get most of them out pretty quickly, but the day
after their arrival we noticed that many of them were coughing. This is a sign
of lungworm, with an associated infection. The hogs need treatment for 5 days,
by which time most have recovered and can be released.
Seal releases 4 more seals have been
released this week. That cuts down our work load and our feeding costs too. Each
seal has been eating approximately 50 herring every day.
Blackbird fledgling The 1st young
blackbird, a cat victim, is eating well and has moved into a cage. It will soon
to learn to pick up food for itself.
6th April 2008
It hasn't been a good weekend, with a buzzard, a swan and a
barn owl coming in badly injured, beyond repair, and needing to be euthanased.
This afternoon things got better. Andy collected the first fox cub of the year
from Nicky, an SSPCA Inspector. The little cub, about 3 weeks old, has been
hiding in the back of a washing machine for the last 3 days. His name is Daz. He
has settled down in the hospital, eaten some tinned food, and is snuggled up
with a cuddly soft toy.
The next call was from the Police, asking if we could collect
a roe deer that had been hit by a car. It is badly concussed, but there seem to
be no bones broken. Of course there could be internal injuries, but it does seem
hopeful. It has been treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and
is lying quietly in a shed deeply bedded with straw.
4th April 2008
Andy and I have just had a couple of days away. We arrived
back at Hessilhead just after the first batch of 20 Uist hedgehogs had arrived.
There isn't space for them in the hedgehog hospital, which is full of the 50 odd
hedgehogs we have over-wintered. The weather is warmer today, so hopefully we
will start releasing these young hogs soon. The Uist hogs will be easier to
release. They are mostly adult hedgehogs, that have survived hibernation on
their own, and know quite a bit about foraging and nest building. We will
release them in gardens with plenty of cover, and areas of grass where they will
find most of their food. Anyone interested in releasing hedgehogs in their
garden, either hand reared youngsters that need a pampered release, or Uist
hedgehogs, that will be more independent, please get in touch with us.
27th March 2008
I'm feeling a bit sleepy this evening after last night's
rescue. Fortunately we didn't have far to go. The fox had been found near
Darnley, but someone had taken him home to Neilston. The fox was unconscious
when we brought him back to Hessilhead at 1.30 am, so we gave him
anti-inflammatory treatment and left him in the carrying box beside the heater.
He was still unconscious this morning, but by late afternoon he was moving
around, and earlier this evening I persuaded him to have a drink of lectade.
Although he stands and turns around, he isn't aware of his surroundings. A lot
of improvement is needed, but we are hopeful that he could make a full recovery.
25th March 2008
We released two grey seals today, Paddy and Sam, and the
release was filmed for Animal24/7. It was predictable that Paddy, always the
confident one, would be straight out of his carrying box and off exploring. Sam
was hesitant to leave the box, and then he was hesitant to leave the safety of
the harbour. He spent more than an hour exploring the shallows, sometimes we
thought he would come ashore, and the first time he ventured a little way out,
something spooked him and came back like a bullet. The harbour was drying out as
the tide ebbed, and tired of waiting, the film crew left. They wouldn't have
been back at their car when Sam decided the time was right to leave. He left by
following the far wall, finally swimming confidently out to sea. The two seals
had been good friends, interacting frequently, so we hope they met up again
Paddy sets sail
Sam in the shallows
24th March 2008
Andy and I returned from the sunny Uists to a cold, windy but
mainly sunny Easter weekend. A variety of patients came into care, including 5
young rabbits dug from their burrow by a dog, a tawny owl, hit by a car late on
Saturday night, and 3 barn owl casualties. One of the barn owls made a quick
recovery, and as she had a well developed brood patch, she was released close to
where she was found two days later. Another female barn owl was found at the
roadside today, lying in a puddle. She has been rehydrated, had a small feed,
and is enjoying the comfort of a box on a heat pad. Barn owl number 3 was taken
straight to our vet, and we expect an update on her condition tomorrow. Several
pigeons came into care, one of them with lots of thread tangled round her feet.
It took quite a while to remove the thread, that had cut deeply into her flesh.
A herring gull that had a hook embedded in the side of its mouth appeared to be
asking for help when it refused to move from someone's front door. We removed
the hook and the gull is eating again. Today we were called out to remove two
swans that had misjudged their flight into Irvine harbour, and landed in the
back garden of a house across the road. They were trying to get into the
kitchen, as if they knew that was the way to the river. We were really surprised
to get a call about a seal pup. Young grey seals in the wild should weigh over
50 kilos now, but this little fellow weighs only 18k. He was found on the beach
at Dunure, feeling too weak to care about the crowd of people around him. Two
foxes and a badly injured buzzard were also admitted, but didn't survive, and we
released a kestrel and a heron.
16th March 2008
The weather was great today. It felt like spring and was
really warm this afternoon. The first spring casualties arrived too. Three baby
rabbits were dug from their burrow by a dog. The owner of the dog brought the
rabbits here straightaway. She had them in a box full of hay, but the babies
were lying on top of the hay, and were very cold. We gradually warmed them by
putting their box on a heat pad, and I have just given them their first feed
from a bottle. They all drank enthusiastically, so I hope they will thrive.
Remember though, that if you come across some orphaned youngsters, their first
requirement is heat. Put them in a box with cosy bedding, cover them with some
of the bedding and put the box on a heat pad, next to a radiator or on a hot
water bottle. Many baby birds and mammals cannot keep themselves warm, and
certainly can't warm themselves up. They will probably get chilled in a room
that you find comfortable. Keeping youngsters warm before they arrive here will
increase their chances of survival.
Andy and I are heading for the Uists tomorrow, to finalise
arrangements for this year's hedgehog relocation. We hope to enjoy some walking
and wildlife watching too.
14th March 2008
At last, a day without wind and rain. We took the opportunity
to release a chaffinch and a blackbird at Hessilhead. The chaffinch didn't look
promising when it went into the aviary a few weeks ago, but it flew strongly
when released close to our bird feeders. The blackbird has spent most of its
time hiding in the conifer in the aviary, so we left the release hatch open, and
it can leave when it is ready. Two kestrels were released too. The male
kestrel returned to its own patch at West Kilbride, and the female was released
close to where she was found just outside Dalry. I wasn't there, but I'm told
they both flew well.
I thought you would like to see a photo of the otter cub,
Yorkie. He is doing well, eating lots of fish with a preference for salmon and
trout. He doesn't like people, which is a good thing. When we take his food or
clean out the shed, he stays in the sleeping box. If we happen to get too close
he snarls, so no-one will be tempted to pet him!
10th March 2008
After a quiet week it turned out to be a fairly busy weekend.
First to arrive was a tawny owl, picked up by Kirkintilloch Police during their
night shift. It is probably the fattest tawny owl ever to come into our care. It
was certainly in good condition for the breeding season. Unfortunately,
when hit by a car, it has fractured the tip of its right wing. The wing is
strapped up now, and we hope the owl will make a full recovery.
On Sunday morning we had to ask the Fire and Rescue Service
to help rescue a gull that was hanging from a television aerial. As usual they
turned this request into an exercise, and soon had the bird down. It has a
strained wing, but should recover.
Sunday afternoon saw us heading to Biggar in South
Lanarkshire. This is a long run for us, taking more than an hour to get there,
but it did sounded like the 3 swans needed help. Last year, two pairs of swans
had nested on the island in a small pond at a caravan site. Despite constant
bickering, both pairs of swans had reared young, and the cygnets of one pair had
flown away. The female of the other pair was killed when she collided with
overhead wires, and since then, the dominant pair had kept her mate and 2
cygnets of the water. They were getting plenty of food from local people, but
seemed to be trapped in a small area, that didn't give them enough space to take
off and leave. We soon had the 3 swans in bags and in the back of the car, and
released them with the flock of swans on Lanark Loch. They seemed pleased to
have access to water again, and when we left all were thoroughly enjoying a
bathe and preen. On the way home we collected an unusual adult male blackbird.
It has white patches at the sides of its neck, a partial albino. Unfortunately
it has a vision problem, and we doubt if there will be any improvement.
6th March 2008
Andy and I had arranged to drive down to Gretna yesterday. We
were to meet up with a lady who runs a wildlife rehab centre in North Yorkshire,
and collect a young otter cub from her. Although the cub was doing well with
Jean, she doesn't have the facilities to care for it long term. We didn't go, as
Meg, our black and white spaniel, has been really ill this week, and was still
hospitalized at the Vet's. John, one of our volunteers, and a real otter
enthusiast, offered to do the trip instead. So the otter, little Yorkie,
is now at Hessilhead, settling in and eating well. We hope another cub will turn
up soon. Otters love to play and he would enjoy some company when he's a bit
older. (Meg is home from the Vet now, and on the mend).
28th February 2008
This week the media has highlighted the damage that discarded
plastic bags cause to wildlife. ....and there was an example on our own
doorstep. We were called out to rescue a shag that had thick polythene tightly
wrapped around its body. It was Tuesday, another stormy day, and the shag was
standing on one of the pontoons at Ardrossan Harbour. We feared there was little
hope of us catching bird; it was so close to the water we knew that it would
jump in when we got close.
Andy crawled along the pontoon, inching the net forwards. He
was almost there when the shag jumped in, and there was nothing more we could do
that day. We expected the bird to come out again, and people working at the
marina, as well as the lady who had called us out, promised to call when the
bird was seen again. So far we haven't heard anything. We doubt if the bird
could have removed the plastic itself. The shag can still swim, but it probably
won't dive and chase fish very successfully. Perhaps another unlucky victim of
our throw away society.
25th February 2008
It has been wet and windy today, certainly not the sort of
day we'd expect to collect our first young tawny owl of the year. The owlet was
found in Coatbridge, on the ground, and taken to the local vet, who happens to
be an experienced birder too. The youngster was unlikely to survive if put back
out in this weather, although later in the year we may have thought that this
was a good option. The chick is eating well, and we'll keep our fingers crossed
that another youngster will come our way soon. Young tawnies always do better
22nd February 2008
Andy and I have just had a few days away. On Tuesday we were
at the Scottish Police Wildlife Crime Conference. This is always an informative
and enjoyable day, with the chance to meet up with colleagues and acquaintances.
We enjoyed a couple of days walking in central Perthshire, then returned home to
hear the disappointing news that snares had not been banned. New regulations
will be put in place, governing their use, but this will not stop the suffering
experienced by every animal caught in one of these cruel and indiscriminate
Good news today. The egg bound heron was released on the
football pitches, just outside Dean Castle Country Park. We chose to release her
there in case she didn't fly properly. Herons are such big birds that it is hard
to be sure they are ready for release, even in our biggest aviaries. In a wide
open space we would stand a good chance of recovering her if she didn't do well.
We needn't have worried. The heron went up and up, circled over the trees and
then made a beeline into the park, presumably heading back to her nest.
14th February 2008
We have been working without our hospital for the last 3
weeks, as it is being completely refurbished. We have been managing well, with
extra patients in the hedgehog hospital, some in the surgery, others in the
mammal room, and some in cages in sheds. The last thing we really needed when we
are short of space was a heron, and now we have not one, but two herons. Herons
are difficult patients, that rarely feed themselves when they first come into
care. So they usually have to be hand fed, but that isn't the end of it. After a
feed, a heron must not be disturbed for at least 2 hours. If it is disturbed, it
will probably regurgitate its last meal. After 2 hours, and the meal should be
beyond the point of no return. Regurgitating food is a useful trick for herons
in the wild, If disturbed, up comes dinner, and the heron is lighter for making
a quick getaway. It doesn't make caring for an emaciated heron easy! Heron
number one is enjoying the luxury of our heated large cabin. Talk about private
health care! The second heron arrival spent a day there too, but she has moved
to a shed now. We were quite puzzled why she had been picked up, lying in a
field, unable to fly. She is fat and strong and apparently fit. Today we got the
answer. A deep blue heron's egg lay in the corner of her shed, and the heron is
much more lively. So we think the heron was egg bound. She will be
released close to where she was found.
13th February 2008
It is always a good day when a patient is ready for release.
Today it was time to take last week's roe deer back to Irvine. I didn't go, but
I heard that it went off well, and that the release team watched it for while
with the spotlight.
Earlier today, David and Leianne went to rescue an owl that
was trapped in a pipe in a builders yard in Dalry. The owl was wearing jesses,
which told us it was an escaped bird. As it happened the owner had phoned us a
few days ago, reporting the missing bird, and leaving his phone number. He soon
came round to collect his pet barn owl.
9th February 2008
The first patient of today was a kestrel, brought from
Lapwing Lodge, the Scout centre on Gleniffer Braes. The kestrel had been found
in a water butt, but by the time it arrived here it was almost dry. I left it in
a box in the surgery, and when I returned later to check on it, I found it
sitting on the X-ray light box! The bird is underweight, so will be kept here
for a few days . Already it is eating well, so we expect it will soon be
returned to Scout HQ. The next call was about an injured heron in South
Ayrshire. It had already been taken into care, and offered some tuna. We said
we'd collect it later in the day. Things don't often work out in our
favour, but as it happened, we had two birds ready to release in S Ayrshire. A
buzzard from Barrhill had been treated by Girvan vet Alan Jeans, and then
recuperated at Hessilhead till its fractured leg healed. We met the man who
found the bird, and he took us to the exact spot where it was found. As soon as
we opened the box the buzzard was off, flying well and landing on a tree at the
edge of the wood. Another buzzard flew across to join it. We then collected the
heron at Pinmore, and left a tawny owl to be released after dark. We arrived
back at the centre to admit a barn owl that had been tangled on barbed wire. The
wing isn't badly damaged, but the feathers are a bit of a mess. Hopefully we can
sort them out so the bird can return to the wild without spending months in
captivity waiting to moult. On examination we discovered that the heron had a
large tear near the top of its leg, and was terribly underweight and dehydrated.
It was stitched up, given antibiotics and fluids, and left on a heat pad for the
night. Still the evening wasn't finished. A chaffinch was delivered from Dalry,
possibly a window victim, and a very sick white dove was brought from Balloch.
The last call of the evening was to say that the Pinmore tawny owl had been
7th February 2008
David and I spent most of today filming with Truenorth
Productions, making a TV programme for Animal Rescue Squad. We released a
kestrel and a buzzard, which both flew really well. Look out for the TV
6th February 2008
There have been some disappointments over the last few days.
On Monday Shelby collected a seal pup from the Rangers at Culzean Castle. It was
taken to the vets the next day, and they phoned later to say that, sadly, it had
been put to sleep. The damage to its leg and flipper was too old to repair.
Early this morning Andy and I went into Glasgow to rescue a fox. The poor
thing had tried to jump a picket gate, but a hind leg had slipped between the
pickets, and when we arrived, the fox was hanging by a shattered hind leg. It
could have been there for hours, and was so tightly jammed that it took us a
while to free the injured limb. The leg was too badly damaged to save, so the
fox was PTS.
On a happier note the RTA roe deer that Andy and Leianne
collected last night is looking brighter this afternoon. It has even eaten a
Shelby and Leianne went on a swan rescue today. They returned wet
and bedraggled, but triumphant. A cygnet had been chased into a channel off the
main pond at Ardeer Rec, presumably by parents who are thinking of nesting soon,
and wanting the territory to themselves. They wouldn't let their cygnet back
onto the pond, and it couldn't take off, or even get out of the water, from the
channel. Judging from the state of Shelby and Leianne, the cygnet wasn't too
keen on being rescued!
3rd February 2008
The first patient of the day was a surprise, a fulmar found
in a garden pond in Kilwinning. The fulmar is underweight, and was given
rehydration fluids twice today. Now it is resting cosily on a heat pad. Next
came a kestrel, found unable to fly in West Kilbride. This lovely male bird has
a carpal injury. It will be going to the Vet tomorrow. We went to Renfrew this
afternoon, well prepared to rescue a young swan, that was reported to be
bleeding badly, and was staying on the island in the pond at Robertson park.
Andy didn't really need the survival suit, for as it happened, the pond had been
partly drained, and the water didn't reach the top of his wellies!. We didn't
need the ropes either, as the cynget didn't try to escape. Neither was the
cygnet as badly injured as had been thought. All the blood was coming from
damaged toe nails. They always bleed a lot. Nevertheless it was a well to bring
the cygnet into care. It was certainly quite subdued when rescued. We were half
way back to the centre when we received a call about an injured deer. It had
been moved off the road near Irvine, but no-one had stayed with the casualty.
Sadly when we arrived the deer was dead. We got back to Hessilhead to find that
an SSPCA Inspector was here, delivering an injured swan. This is one of the
swans from Saltcoats, that has regularly been crossing the road from the
Auchenharvie Golf Course to the School. One of them was sure to be injured
sooner or later. Fortunately this swan has only a minor injury. Let's hope the
swans go elsewhere soon.
28th January 2008
We have spent much the of time during the last few days
taking everything out the main hospital building, which is to be completely
refurbished over the next few weeks. Patients have been moved to the hedgehog
hospital, the mammal room and the surgery. It will take a bit of getting used
to, but at least we are not too busy at this time of year. By the time our busy
season arrives the hospital should look like new.
We had just about finished the removal work when we received
a call about a stranded seal pup at Saltcoats. Andy and Leianne were soon back
with a rather chubby, lovely pale pup, still with some of its baby white coat.
It had attracted quite a crowd of admirers on the beach......and they had
decided to call the pup Sandra.
There was another trip to the 3 towns early in the evening.
This was to release the fox that had been found in a bathroom. It went off at top
speed, obviously pleased to be free.
24th January 2008
Andy and I have just been away for a few days, enjoying the
snow in Central Perthshire. Apparently it has been pretty hectic here, with swan
calls several times a day. One swan was quite badly injured when the Renfrew
Ferry crushed its foot. Good news from the vet though. The swan will be ready to
come home tomorrow.
David and Leianne were on a seal rescue when we arrived home.
They came back with one of the skinniest seals we have ever seen. It looks
awful. As well as being underweight, people had been pouring sea water over the
seal to keep it cool! It hasn't stopped shivering yet, but we are warming it up
19th January 2008
Fox in Bathroom!
We are used to strange requests at Hessilhead, but this was
the first time we'd been asked to remove a fox from a bathroom. the owners
of the house often left their back door open in the evenings, so their dogs had
access to the garden. Sometimes a fox wanders into the kitchen. This time the
fox went further, but then became frightened. It took refige in the bathroom,
and even though doors had been left open, it hadn't left. Johnny and
Leianne went to the rescue. They found the fox draped across the wash hand basin
taps. leianne soon had the fox by the scruff, and into the carrying box, and
decided to bring it back to the centre to be examined. This was just as well.
The fox has a deep scratch beneath its eye, and some cloudiness in the eye
itself. It will benefit from antibiotics for a few days before returning back to
its territory. It is a big dog fox, and as this is the foxes' mating season, I'm
sure it will be keen to get back into the wild.
18th January 2008
Dudley the seal
Good news today, Dudley has started to feed himself. It is
always a relief when this happens, for the staff and for the seal. The staff
would rather not force an animal to eat, and the seal must enjoy food better
when it isn't being pushed down its throat. We expect that Dudley will start to
gain weight more quickly now, and soon he'll move to an enclosure with a pool.
17th January 2008
This morning a deer jumped in front of a lorry near the Dalry
Inn. The lorry driver stopped, knocked at a nearby house to ask for help, and
the owner of the house brought the deer here. We nearly always have to collect
deer ourselves. The deer was concussed and shaken, but by tea time
he was standing, favouring his sore leg, but it isn't broken. Now we must
persuade him to eat.
16th January 2008
You have probably noticed, that over the past few years there
has been an explosion in the buzzard population, and whereas ten years ago, you
would expect to see buzzards in rural areas, now they are common in suburbia and
along busy roads. Last week David rescued a buzzard from the Kilbarchan slip
road onto the B737. The bird has been hanging around there for weeks. It must
have been clipped by a car recently, as it has a shoulder injury and has lost
some weight. It won't take long to regain the weight; the bird starting eating
straightaway, and has now moved to an aviary, where it can get restricted
exercise. Hopefully it soon be ready for release. Today Andy & I collected
another buzzard from a farm not far from Lochwinnoch. The owner of the farm said
the buzzard had been unable to fly since the storms last week, and he supposed
it was injured when the tree holding a buzzard nest was blown down. This is not
the case. The bird has a feather problem. This is a long standing problem,
resulting from insufficient food when a chick. The feathers are weak, most of
the tail feathers are broken, and the flight feathers are tatty and abraided.
When the feathers are wet, it is impossible for the bird to gain any height, so
it has been walking around the ground, eating earthworms, but is in surprisingly
good condition, weightwise. The buzzard is now in an aviary, but will
probably have to stay at Hessilhead till it moults out its old feathers and
grows in new ones. This won't happen till late summer, and that is a long time
for a bird to be in care.
14th January 2008
Andy and I went to Edinburgh today, to preview the
cinema advertisement for the campaign to ban snaring in Scotland. There is no
doubt at all that snaring is cruel and indiscriminate. If you haven't already
registered your vote to ban these awful devices, please visit
www.bansnares.com and do so.
13th January 2008
We finished today with a deer release. The adult roe doe was
brought to the centre in December, by Karen, our reliable Greenock volunteer.
Someone had knocked on her door early in the morning, to tell her about the road
casualty, lying on Clune Brae, Port Glasgow. Karen was soon dressed and hurrying
to the scene, and she arrived here later that morning with a concussed deer in
her van. The doe made a slow recovery, responding to anti-inflammatory drugs,
then being hand fed, and after about ten days feeding herself. There would be a
day when the deer was jumpy, panicking when we took her food, but the next day
she would be quiet again, obviously not quite ready for release.
For the last 3 days there has been no doubt that the doe was
ready for release. When we took vegetation or vegetables she was trying to get
out of the back of the shed. So this evening she was sedated for travelling,
taken close to where she was found, given the antidote and watched for a few
minutes till she came round, recognised her surroundings, and toddled off to
resume life in the wild. Hopefully she will be more careful when crossing the
Other casualties taken into care today included a kestrel, a
jackdaw, 2 swans and 3 pigeons. There will be trip to the vet tomorrow with some
of these patients.
11th January 2008
The tawny owl was found being attacked by crows on the cycle
track south of Ayr. The person who found the owl took it home, then phoned
Hessilhead for advice. He kept the owl warm and in the dark, till he could bring
it to the centre later in the morning. We have never seen anything quite like
this owl. It has a massive infection inside its mouth, that prevents the mouth
from closing. The owls eyes were tightly closed, and there are swellings beneath
them. Perhaps this is part of the same infection. We have cleared away some of
the necrotic tissue, cleaned the eyes and opened them, and put the owl on
antibiotics. We are not sure yet whether the owl will make a full recovery,
10th January 2008
It seems like the quiet season is over. The first call today
was about a guillemot that had been handed in to the Marine Reserch Lab at
Millport. The bird was put on the ferry to Largs and we collected it from there.
Its a little underweight and perhaps went ashore to escape the storm of
yesterday. A short eared owl was delivered, but its wing injury was far too bad
for the bird to ever fly again. Sadly it was put to sleep. An injured fox wasn't
a survivor either, but a buzzard picked up from the roadside, wet and
bedraggled, was looking much brighter by tea time, and a wet limping swan from
Ayr looked happier once it had dried off and eaten., Two hedgehogs, delivered
earlier this week, are doing very well. It is a bad time of year to get in
underweight hedgehogs, so we are pleased that these two youngsters are gaining
7th January 2008
Dudley the seal pup
Andy and I were pleased to see all the staff back today. They'd all had
a good holiday, which they thoroughly deserved, as they willingly work lots of
extra time throughout the year. Having them back us a chance to catch up with
paperwork and phone calls, but by mid afternoon we'd had enough of inside, and
were keen to respond to a report of an injured seal pup lying on the beach at
Fairlie. The seal was 200 yards along the beach, lying sleeping not far from the
sea wall. It obviously had a problem, but certainly came to life as soon as Andy
grabbed it. In fact it squirmed its way out of the blanket that we usually use
for carrying seal pups. I'd to fetch the carrying box to get the pup back to the
The seal is emaciated and has nasty bites around his hind legs and tail. He
is getting rehydration fluids for 24 hours, antibiotics and wormer. He doesn't
really seem to appreciate the care.
6th January 2008
The year got off to a quiet start as far as new patients are
concerned, though there has been plenty to do at the centre over the holiday
time. The 6 grey seal pups are almost a day's work in themselves, thawing fish,
delivering the food and then of course cleaning out the seal pools. We are
pleased with the seals' progress. All are self feeding and gaining weight. We
have 6 young roe deer that are being over-wintered, an adult female roe deer who
survived a road traffic accident, and McDougall, our resident roe buck. The deer
eat rabbit food, carrots, turnip and apples, and every day 30lb of vegetables
has to be chopped for them. Other casualties currently in care include 40
hedgehogs, 5 buzzards, 5 tawny owls, 3 barn owls, 10 swans and a variety of
small garden birds.
1st January 2008
2007 came to a busy end, with several patients coming into
care last night. Saltcoats Police arrived early in the evening with a swan they
had removed from the taxi rank at the station. With a drooping slightly bleeding
wing, it had probably been bumped by a vehicle, though why it was there in the
first place we don't know. Then came an injured common gull, followed by a
pouter pigeon. These brought the total of casualties for 2007 to 3332.
Click here for Gay's Diary, 2007 Click here for Gay's Diary, 2009