Ice Concern over Pells Pond Swan

Members of the public have called out a voluntary rescue service over 27 times believing a swan at the Pells Pond, Lewes, has been stuck in ice. Rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) have sent ambulances out up to 3 times a day due to the level of concern which members of the public have had over the lone swan being stuck in ice.

Members of the public have called out a voluntary rescue service over 27 times believing a swan at the Pells Pond, Lewes, has been stuck in ice. Rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) have sent ambulances out up to 3 times a day due to the level of concern which members of the public have had over the lone swan being stuck in ice.

Most calls have been reporting the swan to have a leg stuck in the ice. "When you asked people what they are seeing which makes them think the swans is stuck in the ice, they normally say they can only see one leg and that the other leg must be trapped in the ice, as the swan is not moving. The leg is actually tucked up under their feathers to keep warm" added Trevor.

The most common reports are that the swan has been sat in the same position for many hours – swans do not move around the ice much if they don't have to, in order to keep warm. Their body temperature will cause the ice to become smooth and difficult for them to stand and as falling on their keel bone is quite painful, some swans are reluctant to stand on ice unless they have to. Also standing on ice and moving around is energetic and they try to be sensible and conserve energy in this cold weather.

Birds' body temperatures are naturally higher than that of mammals, and they cope better in cold weather than mammals, their thick feathers are nice and soft and warming and they will tuck a leg and foot inside their feathers in order to keep them warm, like us pulling our jumper or coat sleeves over our hands or putting on gloves to keep warm. They can only do this with one leg at a time, so they may stretch and waggle around the other leg to occasionally get it off the ice and to get the blood pumping through and to warm it up. Once one leg is warmed up they will swap legs.

People mention they are concerned that the bird isn't feeding, all swans fatten themselves up before winter so they can cope with spells of weather when food is difficult to find, so they can cope without being able to find food. Throwing food to the swan can cause problems with gulls and other birds dive bombing the swam to catch the food, this will only stress the swan.

"In over 25 years of undertaking wildlife rescue work, I have never come across a swan properly stuck in ice, it very rarely happens, people misunderstand what is happening and why the swans are not moving" said Trevor.

On Wednesday 8th February WRAS received 6 phone calls from members of the public expressing their concern, and ambulances were sent 3 times to investigate. "One call even said the swan was at deaths door, so we treated it as an emergency and were onsite within 20 minutes but the swan was absolutely fine. We have no option but to respond to these calls, it is nice to see so many people being so concerned for the swan, but it is turning into a cry wolf situation, we respond because we would feel so guilty if the rare event actually happened and the swan did develop problems" said Trevor.

East Sussex WRAS are asking people to phone if they are concerned but to take the above information into account before phoning to hopefully avoid the charity having to respond unnecessarily. The average cost of being on call for and responding to a single call-out is £65. There are clearly many caring people who live near and visit the Pells Pond and it is good to see people being so concerned. We are only a small charity and have limited funds so if anyone is able to help by making a donation it would be very much appreciated. Donations can be made online or by posting donations payable to "East Sussex WRAS" to Po Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931-523958 (anytime) or 01825 873003 (office hours).

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