Monthly Rescue Report

Towards the end of each month WRAS founder and Operations Director writes a short report on the monthly activities and how things have been going.

February 2020

February despite having an extra day in it this year, has so far been quieter than normal.  The figures for January have been calculated and we dealt with 136 casualties. Which is the second highest number on record just 2 lower than last year.  These are typically very quiet months for WRAS.

This winter has been remarkably strange due to the constant mild weather. Most hedgehogs have not hibernated, although there are some local exceptions to this rule.  So despite the huge number we dealt with back in October and November we have not had to keep any in once up to weight as it has been mild enough to continue releasing them back to the wild.  I’ve never known a winter like this in the 35 years I’ve been dealing with wildlife.

Early February WRAS was proud to visit staff at Hart Reade Solicitors in Eastbourne who had chosen WRAS as one of their charities for the year and received an amazing cheque for £895.13. My colleague Ellie Langridge and I attended to collect the cheque.  We have also started receiving cheques from people wanting to sponsor our cages within the hospital after an appeal which went out with our last newsletter. We have already had several cages sponsored in memory of people as well as as birthday gifts. The sponsorship starts at £250 and is permanent.

Ellie, Kristy and I were called to Uckfield Waitrose mid February after they had a little wren discovered flying around in the store. After spending about 20 minutes searching for it we almost gave up and left, but then suddenly it was spotted between the entrance and exit doors at the back of the store. Rescuers tried to catch the bird but without any luck before it managed to get into the main store again. The little bird was spotted on top of one of the fridges and as rescuers tried to net it, the little bird fell to the floor down a gap. Wondering where the bird had gone it was eventually found underneath, and through more luck than judgement Ellie managed to catch it in a net as it tried to fly out and along the aisle past the frozen veg.  With storm Ciara blowing a gale outside, the wren was taken outside behind the store to a conifer bush when it was more protected from the elements.  

I really must remind myself that I am not getting any younger!  I was also called to an oak tree which had fallen across Little Marshfoot Lane off Mill Lane in Hailsham. Up in the tree was a large bat box. The owner was concerned that there could be bats in the box which were then at risk as a result of the tree falling.  I climbed up the branches to the box, but due to the angle I was struggling to check the box fully. With rescuer Clare below me I was able to lower the box down to the floor where it could then be checked over properly. After climbing up I decided I would take the easy way down and use a ladder!

We have also received a number of calls of concern about a swan at Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne.  The swan has been floating around for several days, and people have grown concerned for its welfare.  Both myself and colleagues have been down and the swan is showing no signs of ill health.  Local residents have seen the swan fly. It is using both legs and feet ok. Its eating food which it is offered and showing no sign of injury or illness.  Although not seen in the outer harbour in Eastbourne very often, it does occur in places like Newhaven and Shoreham Harbour and their rivers which are tidal. Swan are water birds so it is not unusual to see them on the sea.  

We are now recruiting seasonal rescuers to help with the busy spring and summer seasons. The shifts are 8am till 3/4/5pm and 3/4/5pm till 9pm. We are happy to be flexible with the finish time of the day shift and start of the afternoon/evening shift.

Check out the video on our website and fill in the form to apply. In order to be a rescue volunteer, you need to be presentable, good with dealing with the public, able to stay calm in an emergency, level headed and good with animals and birds. You also need a clean driving licence in order to drive our ambulances. We have both cars and transit vans and must be willing to drive both vehicles. Training is on the job. New rescuers start with the basic collections and slowly build up their experience. Where possible rescuers work in pairs for safety.

We have had some students from Solent University with us filming for their university course. They spent a week following the charity around. They were able to film a fox rescue and subsequent release in Langney. The fox had managed to get inside the shed after storm Ciara blew out a window.  After using a dog grasper to secure the fox, I had to crawl inside the shed to gain control of the fox so it could be safely lifted out to a cage. After a check over the fox was found to be fine and released later that night once the roads were quieter.  We were also called out to a road casualty squirrel at Arlington. The squirrel managed to drag itself through bushes and into a tree stump.  Luckily the stump was quite rotten so I was able to dig down through the stump and eventually after a lot of perseverance grab hold of the squirrel. Unfortunately the squirrel needed euthanasia due to a broken spine.  The students also filmed a hedgehog rescue in Eastern Close Polegate which had wounds to its head. They also filmed another difficult rescue of a Fox off Buxton Road Eastbourne, which had injuries to its head and jaw.  Emergency medication was given and then assessed by WRAS vets, but sadly this one passed away.

March is typically the month when rescues start to increase. It will be interesting to see what happens this year with such strange weather still.

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March 2020

WRAS’s Monthly Casualty Up-date.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is committed to continuing to help our wildlife as much as possible during the current Coronavirus situation. However, along with everyone else, we are having to cope with the restrictions in order to do our part in keeping our staff, volunteers and the public safe.

We have stopped the public from entering our hospital but moved our trailer outside reception which is now operating as a drop off point for casualties. Please always call the rescue line 07815-078234 first for advice before delivering a casualty.

WRAS's trailer acts as drop off point for casualties.

Our first aid courses and hedgehog experiences for the next few months have been cancelled, as was our Quiz Night.

We are moving towards a restricted volunteer service to reduce the risk to staff and essential volunteers who need to weather out the coronavirus crisis for the sake of the casualties.

Two baby pigeons which Kathy is rearing.

Our Casualty Manager Kathy Martyn based in Uckfield has been kept busy the last few weeks as we have started to get young doves and pigeons coming into care. She now had her hands full rearing two very small hatchling baby pigeons, which she had to stay up through the night looking after initially.

Talking of pigeons last week saw WRAS called out to deal with yet another pigeon entangled in netting, this time just off Uckfield High Street. Rescuers were able to use ladders to gain access and cut him free. Luckily he has only a minor wound and should make a full recovery and return home fairly soon. Netting has become a regularly hazard for pigeons, and more and more frequently we are seeing pigeon becoming trapped or entangled in netting.

The Willowfield Road injured Fox.

WRAS received an emergency call just before 2am on Friday 13th March regarding a fox in Willowfield Road, Eastbourne who seemed to be disorientated, weak on one of his back legs and kept collapsing and laying down in the middle of the road. A huge thanks to the ladies who found him and managed to keep him safe, as well as for assisting with securing him when rescuers arrived. The fox was a little dazed but with no obvious injuries, he was given pain relief and assessed by WRAS’s vets and found to have a problem with his pelvis.  However, the injury is hopefully going to repair if the fox will relax enough and rest for a while.

A bundle of baby fox cubs

We have had our first fox cubs of the year. Four little ones came in from a derelict garage in Upperton Gardens in Eastbourne.  The caller thought they were rats, but when rescuers arrived they discovered they were fox cubs. Due to their size and general poor health we decided not to reunite them with mum and to keep them in care. They are growing every day and our Lead Casualty Manager Katie Nun Nash is taking them home to ensure they are fed every night properly.

Do you have green fingers or do you grow lettuce, kale, spinach, carrots? With the fastly approaching baby season, we are worried we may not be able to obtain the necessary veg and salad we need to look after some of the babies we get in like rabbits and ducklings, goslings, cygnets etc. If you are able to grow some extra so people can drop off small quantities on a regular basis to help us out it would be really appreciated especially under the current circumstances.

It never fails to amaze me how when you become a rescuer you come across rescues even when not on call!  Rescuer Daryl ended up dealing with a pigeon hanging by fishing line over Moat Pond in East Grindstead a couple of weeks ago. Using one of WRAS’s small boats the birds was soon rescued and now in WRAS’s care.

The most unusual rescue which most people will have already seen in the media was our little common seal which managed to get itself lost in the Heart of Reeds in Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve in Lewes. Managing to get through two sluice gates and then across flood water into the Heart of Reeds, the poor seal was struggling to find his way back out again. The seal was rescued in a joint operation with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, and then transported down to Newhaven Marine for release.

Julia and Trevor wrestle the seal at Lewes
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