Volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue helped by staff from Eastbourne Borough Council had to launch an emergency swan rescue after a dead cygnet was found at Decoy Pond, Hampden Park, Eastbourne on Monday. Staff from Eastbourne Borough Council asked specialist veterinary staff from the Shepperton based Swan Sanctuary to post mortem the cygnet. Staff at the sanctuary were shocked at the cygnets condition and that he had weighed just 2.7kg almost half its expected weight due to a severe parasite burden.
The Swan Sanctuary then phoned East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) who stepped in today as an emergency to assess the rest of the family.
“We took our walk-on-scales down to the park to check the weight of the cygnets hoping that the one which had died was a runt and more susceptible to illness. Luckily mum, dad and three cygnets were on the grass, so we managed to catch two of them easily and weigh them” explained WRAS volunteer rescuer Kathy Martyn “these two were checked over back at our ambulance and discovered to be about 3.9kg and 3.2kg which is quite a bit lower than we would expect.”
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks MBE who co-ordinated rescue, contacted the Swan Sanctuary’s vet nurse Mel Beeson, to talk over the cygnets conditions, and a decision was taken to catch the three remaining cygnets and try to check one of the parents weights too.
“It was clear the cygnets were nowhere near as lively as should be expected, so we decided to go for the slow and patient approach waiting for suitable opportunities to catch them and the parents where possible. Our second capture saw another cygnet and dad caught. They were checked and the cygnet was only 3.1kg and dad was a good 12kg weight. Volunteer Rescuer Tony collected these four and took them to WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith, whilst Kathy and I continued to catch the remaining two cygnets.”
Using an inflatable boat Trevor went out onto the lake to try and find the remaining cygnets but backed off when one of them appeared at the far side near the bank, giving Kathy enough time and space to catch the cygnet which was close to the bank. “The poor little chap didn’t put up much fight at all, and was not interested in food but was drinking a lot. We weighed this one which was 2.9kg” said Kathy.
The last cygnet was found by the inlet stream and slowly floated closer to the bank and with a long handled net Trevor managed to catch this one too without the cygnet putting up much fight and weighed just 2.6kg. “These last two cygnets were very worrying and clearly not very strong and after seeking advice from the Swan Sanctuary it was decided to take them up to their Hospital as a matter of urgency. We were hoping to bring both parents in to be with the cygnets but mum was proving difficult to catch, and as the cygnets were so poorly and dad was clearly in good condition it was decided to release dad back with his partner to keep her company rather than her being on her own. The cygnets will keep each other company and are going to need a lot of love and care from the staff at the Swan Sanctuary” said Trevor.
In 2008 WRAS had to step in to rescue a family of swan after exactly the same incident occurred, which sadly led to most of the family dying.
“We really did not want a repeat of what happened in 2008, which included losing one of the parents. We really hope that these cygnets will survive. Certainly two of them probably would not have survived more than a couple of nights if they had been left.”
The Swan Sanctuary’s staff will work hard on trying to save these cygnets.
UPDATE: 5pm 10th September 2014
Three of the five cygnets rescued yesterday at Decoy Pond Hampden Park, have been so poorly that veterinary staff at the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton have had to place them on Intravenous Fluids. The other two swans are more lively and a better weight and are showing signs of starting to eat for themselves.
The cygnets all remain in a critical condition and are staying in the Swan Sanctuaries Intensive Care Unit.
Update: Monday 15th Setember 2014
Sadly one of the smallest cygents has passed away at the Swan Sanctuary. However the others are doing very well and are hoped to make a full recovery.
Trevor Weeks – East Sussex WRAS – 01825-873003 & 07931523958
Swan Sanctuary – 01932-240790