Swans and Friends Bird Rescue


Latest Newsletter

Spring 2007

Welcome to this, our second newsletter. We thank you for all renewing your membership and making needed donations. I’m sorry that due to punctuation, or lack of, we had several letters addressed to John and Wendy Cheltenham. That particular part should have read, John and Wendy (who write from) < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">Cheltenham. We are actually John and Linda Potts! Another thing we have noticed is changes of addresses, several people have moved home. Please inform us so that we may continue to send the newsletters.

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Times have been very busy with rescues in various places in the south east. In 2006 we dealt with in excess of 260 birds including 140 swans and cygnets, 28 geese, 48 ducks and others including a Gannet, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhens, Pigeons and Doves, Crows and Jackdaws, Pheasents, various Gulls and many various songbirds. This year, so far, we have dealt with more than 94 birds.


In the last newsletter it was mentioned that we were hoping to get a local garage to sponsor the servicing of the “ambulance”. We were lucky enough to have had a positive reply from “Sutton and East Surrey Water plc” who have undertaken to service the vehicle for 2007 and they will review the situation at the end of this year. For this, we offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks. Following the loss of our previous sponsoring mailing company, we are still hoping to find a new one to help the sending of the newsletters, otherwise postage is a large but necessary expense.


The story in the last newsletter regarding Hugh Deeney, the little woodmouse has taken a new angle. It appears that Hugh was not alone as we have had to remove his family as well, a total of about a dozen (unless he has found a new access and keeps coming back in for more sunflower seeds!).


Our more serious rescues have involved geese with fishing line around their legs. One, a greylag goose from Dorking, caused great concern and took about 25 attempts to catch but was finally done with the help of Jenny, the volunteer on leave from her job in Scotland. On a return journey from Shepperton Swan Sanctuary on Boxing Day, we called around to the lake where he lived with his family. Until this day he was being very protective and allowing his family to eat while he kept chasing off other geese, thus keeping out of our reach. Boxing Day p[roved to be a difficult thing as food was obviously more scarce and he limped over for his share and was caught. Fishing line had wrapped around his leg and it was swollen to about three times the size it should have been. Having removed the line and administered antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injections to reduce the swelling, he was allowed a couple of days rest and returned to his family. Seeing him three weeks later was marvellous, he was actually running around and getting food and still looking after his family. Another rescue was to a duck which had the plastic strap from beer/sort drink cans wrapped around its beak. It all seemed quite suspicious, when the duck was caught, the plastic was so tight that the only way to removed it was with scissors. Having not obviously eaten since the plastic had been in place, having removed it, the bird seemed to eat the food ravenously.


Now we are well into a new year and a large amount of our time is spent on the road travelling from rescue to rescue. This year alone, we have covered more than 6500 miles up to the end of April. Many of the rescue calls are for the recovery of baby birds which have fallen from their nests or to cygnets driven off by their parents and adult birds who land on an occupied lake and end up in territorial fights. Now is also the time of year for a new brood and ducklings are always a problem. One of our regular calls is to families who swim around the top of a weir. Many times are we called to pick up the ducklings who have got washed over and cannot make the return journey. Out come the waders and fishing net to reunite them with their distressed mothers but each time another life is saved. This is nature and all we can do is to give a helping hand.


A very serious local incident, where a lake in a park is being de-silted, resulted in the birds, including a pair of swans, being left to cope with no water to swim on while the works were being done but all were being fed and monitored by the contractors and ourselves on a regular basis. Notices were issued in the local papers and on the normal style of metal site boundary fencing asking dog owners “keep their pets on leads and under strict control whilst near the area”. Sadly one owner who, seeming not to care, allowed her dog to run amok amongst the birds, causing a serious injury to the cob swan, a deep wound of some 5 inches in length. The lady owner then apparently tried to blame the contractors for having their fence too high allwing her uncontrolled dog to get under! The local council, who operate the public park, are now asking for witnesses with the view to prosecution. Hopefully the owner will be traced but we still see dogs running around this same park where owners cannot be bothered to read the notices or to walk WITH their dog.


Another incident involving fishing line occurred when a swan was seen to have a lump in her throat and a thin line around her lower mandible (beak). She would not come anywhere near to the side of her lake and was not seen to be eating for days. Having tried many times to catch her, bearing in mind that she could still fly and was possibly carrying eggs, a boat was of no use. She finally ventured near the lake side, probably through hunger and was caught. The lump had by now gone but the beak was hanging loose. As urgent trip to our vet ensured all would be well and an operation was performed to pin and wore the beak back into place and to stitch the wound. After two weeks the pen was put back into the lake and immediately swam to her nest. Later in the day she was seen reunited with her mate and last year’s cygnet. She is still being monitored by ourselves and other people.


It seems strange how people think, especially when our name refers to birds. We have been asked to re-home a dog, asked what types of dogs we have to be re-homed and asked about cats. Each has been redirected to other more appropriate charities. We did take 7 gerbils when a lady was no longer able to keep them due to her allergy. But the strangest must be from a lady asking if we could help by removing a snake from the netting over a garden fish pond. As she was a little wary of snakes we offered to go and assess the situation only to find that a small grass snake had been in for a swim and on trying to get out from the pond got itself badly tangled and severely restricted in the fine covering mesh. The snake was safely removed and relocated to a wooded grassland.


To finish this newsletter on a lighter note, we called Carla Lane’s Animaline, where the volunteers are nearly all young, to inform them that we a hedgehog which was lying still with its eyes open. Speaking to one of them down there, she asked “Does it curl into a ball when touched?”. The answer “No”. “Will it move at all?”. The answer “No”. She said it sounded very serious and to take it to them. Having got there, carrying a container with the hedgehog in it, she carefully removed the said “hedgehog” amid fits of laughter from all around. It was purchased from the local Waitrose store and was a beautiful Cadbury’s chocolate cake with chocolate fingers as its spines. So it was left for them all to share as a little Thank You from us, for all their help!