For over 25 years Hessilhead has cared for Scotland's injured and orphaned wildlife, aiming to rescue, treat, rehabilitate and release birds and animals back to the wild



26th January 2016

January continues to bring in a variety of casualties. We now have 5 buzzards in care, all of them young birds that were found wet, cold, underweight and miserable. All have responded well to treatment, with 4 now in aviaries and the last one eating well in the hospital. A sparrowhawk came in yesterday. This is a very fat young bird that has obviously been hunting well. It was found lying on its back beside a bus shelter, showing typical signs of concussion. It will need a few days rest but hopefully will be back in the west end of Glasgow soon. A peregrine was found injured near Annbank last week. She has damage to flight feathers on her right wing; they seem to have been shredded, so she may have been caught on wire. there is also swelling around her right eye. that is healing now, but the damaged flight feathers are more of a problem. She will either have to stay in care till she moults, or will have replacement feathers imped in.DSC_1666 - Copy


Several cygnets have come into care. Most of these have been chased by parents and got into difficulty. An adult swan from Castle Semple has a problem standing, and two adult swans from Hogganfield have pink feather syndrome. This, as you can guess, results in the feathers turning pink. It is caused by a fungus that grows on mouldy bread, and is then transferred to the feathers, causing them to lose their waterproofing. The result is that birds get wet and cold, eat lesss and quickly go downhill. Our two swans have been washed and that has improved the condition of their feathers, but for the time being we are keeping them off water.

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Last week we had the pleasure of releasing Mac, the seal pup that had been with us for rather a long time. He was found near Gourock last August, weak and underweight. progress was slow as this seal would only eat sprats, but eventually he was persuaded to eat bigger fish, and started to gain weight. He’d been an entertaing patient, often swimming on his back from one end of his pool to the other. At other times he would splash with his hind flippers, sending water in a 6′ spout.P1090194 - Copy

Few small birds have come into care recently, but on the next calm day we’ll release a robin and a song thrush. Crows and magpies have been released. The goosander was released too on a very grey day.P1090243 - Copy

A new otter cub was brought to us from St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Aylesbury. She’d been found on a river bank after floods, near Bedford. We wonder if another cub will be found to keep her company. There is no chance of her getting tame; she is rather snappy.DSC_1674 - Copy

On Saturday we had a call about a large mystery animal in the surf at Skelmorlie. Our team found a basking shark, sadly dead. This is probably the same shark that was filmed near Skelmorlie around Christmas time. Basking sharks should be much further south at this time of year.

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Finally a story of coincidence. Remember the fox that we rescued in Fairlie earlier this month. His name is Monty and he is being treated for osteomyelitis. He has a distinctive mark on his nose. A few days after he came into care, I was doing one of those jobs that you sometimes get round to in winter….sorting older photos. There was a fox, obviously younger than Monty, but with the exact same black mark on his nose. We had that younger fox in March 2014. He was trapped in a close in Gourock, and caught on the top floor landing. He was released a few days later , fit and healthy. We think this could be the same fox. He could easily have moved from Gourock to Largs in 2 years, as he moved from Largs to Fairlie in a week, with a sore leg.

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