Apologies for another long gap in the diary. Where does the time go?
It really feels like winter at Hessilhead now. All the orphans that we reared in the summer have been released. The fox cubs and tawny owls were the last to go, and all went off well. The young common seal remains, but he was a late summer arrival. He came in weighing 8.5 kg and his weight today is 24 kg. He has certainly got the hang of eating herring, and should put on the final 10kg in 2 or 3 weeks.
Hedgehogs are the most time consuming patients at the centre. Small babies are still coming into care, some of them weighing only 150gm. A hedgehog should weigh 700gm to hibernate successfully in Scotland, so many of the hedgehogs in care now are going to be with us till spring. They haven’t been easy patients. Some have been overloaded with internal parasites and needed several treatments. Others have had ringworm/mange, and some have just taken a long time before attaining a steady weight gain.
We have 8 young roe deer in our woodland enclosure now. The deer that was rescued from Muirkirk a few weeks ago was the last to join the group yesterday. Moving a deer is always stressful, for the handlers as well as the animal. Although she was a bit jumpy in the shed, and paced a bit in the carrying box, as soon as the door was opened she walked out calmly. Just two hours later, when I took the evening feed, she was in amongst the other deer, probably pleased to have company. Her injured leg had healed well.
The adult female badger, a road traffic victim from Kilmaurs, has a fractured shoulder blade. We moved her out of the hospital last week, and she seems to enjoy her deep bed of straw. It will probably be a while before she is ready for release, but fortunately she seems quite content here.
A few woodcock have come into care recently. The one still here was chewed by a cat, and has some nasty head injuries. It likes worms though, and will keep us busy digging till it recovers enough to be released.
A barn owl was taken back to Borgue, near Kirkcudbright, last week, and it was lovely sight seeing it fly from the box, take a wifde circular routs, and then head straight for a ruined building, obviously a place it knew well. Another barn owl, that was hit by a plane at Glasgow Airport!, is in the hospital nursing a broken leg. A tawny owl is ready to go home to Moffat. Hopefully we can arrange that next week.
Two buzzards were brought into care this week, and we have another one recuperating in an aviary. The two new arrivals are underweight, but after fluid therapy started to eat well. We have a kestrel too in an aviary, soon to be released.
The young heron released a few weeks ago has become a favourite at Hessilhead, owing to his cheeky nature and habit of perching on path side shed roofs, watching us carefully, as he waits for food to be thrown up beside him. At first he was a little intimidated by the older herons who like to scavenge for fish bits too, but now he is often first in the queue.
Recently lots of wood pigeons and collared doves have been coming into care for a variety of reasons, including cat victims, window collisions, rtas and poor condition. Their success rate has been good. We also have some smaller cat victims, starlings and a great tit at present.
We never go long without a swan casualty being brought to us. Last weekend Hayley brought an adult swan from Castle Semple Loch. It has a large infected haematoma on its ankle, and is slowly responding to treatment. Yesterday a cygnet was picked up on the road at Dams to Darnley Country Park. Seems to be feeling much better today.
The goshawk that has been in care for a few weeks is causing some concern. The initial worry was its inability to stand, and then to balance. That has resolved, but now the left shoulder is not working properly. This is no doubt all connected with the original back injury. We are encouraging the goshawk to fly as much as possible in the aviary, but we are not sure that it will make a full recovery.