Swans and Friends Bird Rescue


Winter 2006

We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and A Healthy New Year.


Welcome to this, the first newsletter from “SWANS AND FRIENDS BIRD RESCUE”. We hope that you find it interesting and informative. First of all, we thank you, our kind and generous supporters from all across the country, for you continued membership and kind donations during this difficult time since the closure of the sanctuary at Outwood.

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We have purchased a second hand inflatable boat and outboard motor, both of which were in next to new condition, and have been used on several occasions recently. This was something we desperately needed for large lake and river work. The boat was put into good use within a couple of days of purchase when, one Friday night, (dinner on the table and finally eaten at 1am!) a rescue group from < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">Eastbourne requested our assistance to remove from the lake cygnets suffering from parasitic infections. By the following Thursday, the birds had all been removed from the water after the water was assessed to be of very poor quality. Within five minutes of the initial Friday night call, we had another call from a lady in north London who had a young Canada goose in her garden. Goose to the right, fox to the left… What should she do as she was going out for the evening??? The goose spent a comfortable night in her utility room with food and water and left his calling card when we removed him the next morning. Many calls this year were to birds on polluted waters, due to the lack of summertime rain, which gave way to botulism and parasites, both of which are difficult to detect and must be acted upon immediately. In many cases it is already too late for the bird to survive.


Our “Ambulance” is now registered with the DVLA, which means we do not pay road tax thus saving at present about £170 a year which can be spent on bird welfare. It is fitted out and fully equipped. We have on board two boats, an outboard motor, first aid boxes (human and veterinary), fire extinguisher, cages, waders, wellies, torches, life jackets, nets, swan hooks and so on! It is comforting knowing that we are ready for just about any situation and ready to tackle anything. We have had interest in the sponsoring of the Ambulance by Watling Tyres of Redhill and VisionAlert of Leeds. We are hoping a local garage will sponsor the vehicle servicing.


Since leaving Outwood we have dealt with in excess of 220 birds, including a gannet, doves, gulls, and grebes as well as swans, geese and ducks. Since the initial formation of “SWANS AND FRIENDS BIRD RESCUE”, we have done in excess of 1,000 miles in the vehicle. We have had calls from as far apart as Devizes in Wiltshire and Canterbury in Kent and Wakefield in Yorkshire to the south coast. All have been covered by either ourselves or other more local rescue centres. One Sunday call was from a gentleman on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, who had been jogging and found a young Canada goose with a possible broken leg on a small polluted pond. He carried home some four miles before calling us. When we got to her she weighed just over four pounds and was in a very sorry state. She was very thin and was unable to move her legs. An urgent trip to the vet and she seemed to be on the mend. However, a sample of her droppings revealed more serious problems, internal parasitic infection but after a series of injections things appeared to be going her way. After a week of therapy and exercise in our bath she was soon chasing a sinking a small plastic boat. It was noted that no extra weight was going on when, with a poo in the bath, out came a tapeworm. Could this have been the long term answer? Sadly she started stressing at 3.30 one morning. Her head was raised but swaying. Gathered up in a soft clean towel, she laid her head on my arm for about five minutes until her head rolled slightly and she passed quietly away, safe in the knowledge that she was not alone, she was loved, always had soft clean vet beds and fresh food and water instead of being left on a dirty polluted pond to die a slow and agonising death.


Phil and Kayleigh (when she is home), two of our volunteers, are in the process of setting up a website for us. When ready it will be Hopefully it will be up and running soon. We lost two of our longer term girl volunteers. Jenny, has takena position in Edinburgh to utilise her degree and the aforesaid Kayleigh, who has started her first year at Plymouth University. We wish them both good luck for their futures. We also have the other volunteers, Keith, who is on standby for , and has done, rescues, Lorraine, our treasurer. She, Lynda, Michelle, Angela and Joy have also offered to help us, Linda and John, where they can.


Our new logo is with thanks to E. A. Richardson who donated pictures to the sanctuary. The swan and mallard heads are from the notelets previously used and the goose head is from a picture we proposed to use in the future on a new notelet. We felt that he combination of them all is what we are about, although we also rescue ANY birds. We are often called about animals but we have to draw a line somewhere and so these are passed on to other charities. We only have a small garden with two ponds and a pen to keep overnight patients.


Loss of a Friend

We woke one morning to find hat we had lost our friend Hugh. He came south, we think, with a companion from way up north of the Thames. Whether for a holiday or to benefit from the Global Warming, we do not know. We took delivery of a stock of waterfowl pellets which bore telltale signs of their existence. Hugh and his friend took up residence in one of the store sheds and unbeknown to us had started to interfere with other feed stocks. Their presence came to light when, upon moving a bag of sunflower seed, a jet of seed shot out across the seed! One of them had infiltrated the bag and left a trail of destruction. Out came the dreaded humane mouse traps and they were laid out in the shed. Success, a little fellow was trapped. Looking in to the trap to see the catch, a big jump, it was gone. Trying again brought better results, so we thought, the two traps gone and two catches? Nothing! They had obviously done it before and removed the food without being caught. Third time lucky. We had two catches. One was our Mr Deeney and the other his friend. Taking them to a safe release site and opening the traps, the friend was gone like a rocket with a two foot jump, never to be seen again. Hugh was a little slower, so slow that he could not even get out the trap. Sliding him slowly forward, he looked as though he was about to die. He was taken back home to the safety of a small, close-barred cage so as not to escape and left near to a heater with food and water. During the day he picked up and by night he was ready to go back to the wild but being a cold and frosty night it was felt better to leave him until the morning. Upon waking a quick check revealed the loss of Hugh Deeney, a little wood mouse who is still at large somewhere around our house. Just so long as it is Mr and not Mrs Deeney all should be ok. Traps have now been set in the house instead of the shed.


Story Updates

Mack and Ha’penny had seven cygnets this year, two were soon seriously injured by fishing tackle. Ha’penny, the mum, managed to get a hook into her tongue and trailed line and float around until she could be enticed with her favourite digestive biscuits. She was taken to the local rescue centre and then to the vet where the hook was finally removed. Back onto the water with husband and babies, she had her bath to get the feathers right and all was well. The first cygnet survived at the rescue centre but after an initial operation and much care, sometime later the second cygnet was found not to be making it and was sadly put to sleep by the vet when its throat failed to heal. A third cygnet was also found to be trailing line and was taken to the centre. The line was cut as the hook could not be felt and it was returned to its water. The next morning it was thankfully seen to be eating well. More on them as time goes by. Wendy and John (from Cheltenham)


Homer and his new wife Wallis, the Simpson family from Leatherhead, had three lovely cygnets even though they had summertime trouble dealing with a very swollen and flooding River Mole.