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



Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Gay’s Diary

February 20th 2017

A varied selection of admissions have kept us busy recently. In the hospital we have two buzzards that arrived within 24 hours of each other. Both were in good condition but had been in road traffic collisions, and had some concussion and cuts. They have not been easy patients. They didn’t start feeding themselves as we’d expected, and when held and hand rfed were extremely bad tempered. One of them, that still has an eye injury, started eating yesterday, and the other one has eaten today. Hopefully they will soon be moved to aviaries. They are very unhappy in the hospital.

We have a kestrel ready for release, and another one making good progress. The latter had a shoulder injury, but now holds its wing high and flies well in the indoor flight.

A tawny owl was collected yesterday to be released where it was found. It is always a pleasure to let the finder release a casualty that he/she helped.

A barn owl that was found lying on the road last week has made a remarkable recovery. it will move to an aviary tomorrow and hopefully soon be back with its mate. 
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We enjoyed seeing a tawny owl perched on the entrance to our new owl nest box for a few days. We haven’t seen it recently, but hopefully the pair will nest there. It is within site of the hospital window.P1120295 - Copy

Last week we released a cormorant that had been found at Strathclyde Loch, soaking. It needed quite a lot of showering to make it waterproof again. We were pleased to see beads of water rolling down its back. The bird stepped from the box, and had a good around before flying away.P1120327 - Copy

Last Monday evening, just before midnight and as we were about to make hot chocolate, the phone rang. A badger had been found in a garden in Kilbarchan. Of we went, and the lady had put a ferret enclosure round the badger. It was a bit reluctant to enter the carrying box, but with a bit of persuasion we got it inside, and soon had it back at the hospital. This poor badger seems to have been bitten by a dog. It has an ear missing, has bites on its face, a cut lip and had a loose broken tooth. It has been patched up, had the tooth removed, and is now eating well.DSC_3264 - Copy

On Saturday a sparrowhawk was collected from us to be released in Drumchapel where it was found just a few days earlier. Apparently it flew off well. We had another sparrowhawk here for an overnight stay, after it hit a window at CVastle Semple visitor centre yesterday.P1120322 - Copy

Swans continue to come in, several a week. One was found at Kilbirnie loch with serious head injuries. It was almost a week before she started trying to eat, and she had trouble doing so. Over the past week she has got stronger, though we have been tube feeding her too. She is gaining weight now and should make a full recovery. We’ve had a bunch of cygnets that have been chased away from home, and a couple of adult swans that have landed on roads.DSC_3255 - Copy

Small birds have included robins, blackbirds and chaffinches. As usual there are plenty of pigeons.

Another small hedgehog was brought to us last week, but the warm weather of the weekend allowed us to release a few rather fat hedgehogs. Hopefully more will be going soon.

We were upset when the little female otter became ill after a couple of days in care, and sadly died. Her brother, who was bigger and stronger, is doing really well, and fortunately doesn’t seem to be lonely. He is eating well and seems content.DSC_3268 - Copy

February 6th 2017

Although Andy and Robert went back to the Gleniffer Braes on Saturday, and Andy and I went today, there is no news of the cubs that were seen on Friday. They were behaving like lost, hungry cubs, but lets hope they were reunited with mum.

We have two more roe deer in care. One of them has a leg fracture that should heal well, and the other had a hugely swollen tongue when it was brought in on Friday. Of course it could neither eat nor drink. It is much better now, and has started nibbling, and the other deer is eating well.

February 3rd 2017

This evening we had a call about two more otter cubs that were seen on the Gleniffer Braes. They had been squeaking loudly, as if lost, though apparently playing in a puddle, and a lady, after watching them for 10 minutes, tried to pick one up but it slithered out of her grasp. She would have been hampered with two dogs. By the time we arrived the cubs had moved a few hundred yards away, and disappeared. We searched, but didn’t hear or see any sign of them.

We hurried back to the hospital, as I was concerned now about the female cub. She had become quite lethargic, and would only eat with encouragement, though she was still drinking a lot. Sadly she died late at night.


January 31st 2017

Yesterday afternoon we got a call from a vet practice in Kirkintilloch, telling us they had an otter cub. Someone would bring it to Hessilhead. This cub was chunky and active, and as soon as I offered him food he grabbed it, and ate it greedily. He was found at Antermoney Loch, near Milton of Campsie, alone and squeaking.

Today the same people who found this cub went back to the loch to search for a sibling. They found a smaller cub, a female, sleeping in the open. It had been raining heavily all morning, and the cub was cold and wet. When she arrived here we gave her fluids and put her in a heated cage to warm up. Later that evening she was up and moving, and after a small feed we put the two cubs together. The bigger cub was finished his fish first, but then the cubs snuggled up together. We left them in the same cage. with a heat pad.


January 26th 2017

Almost spring like today. Andy and I took the fox from the snare to release it at a safer location. It was a wonderful experience to see it running free. When we arrived to rescue that fox last Friday it looked so frightened. Today it scampered off to freedom. Two common seals, Floki and Elmo, were also released today.


20th January 2017

There is always something interesting at a wildlife rescue centre. Yesterday we had a call from the Scottish Strandings Research team, asking if we could collect a young dead porpoise from Dunure. It was bigger and heavier than we expected, but with a a few breaks we got it along the beach and back to the car. It is in our freezer now, and later it will be taken to Inverness for a post mortem. It is important that people find out why cetaceans are dying, and we are pleased to help with collection and transport when we can.

In the evening we got a call about another fox caught in a snare. It was an area unknown to us, and we thought it best to go in daylight this morning. That meant a sleepless night, worrying whether the fox would still be alive, or whether a gamekeeper may have have beaten us to it, and shot the animal. It was a long drive, buit a fairly short walk into woodland where pheasnats were being fed and lots of snares littered the paths. Fox still there but as we approached the snare snapped and we thought he was away with the noose still round his body. Luckily he ran straight into another snare. We quickly had hold of the terrified animal, removed both snares and brought him back to Hessilhead for treatment. We need to keep the fox for a few days, to make sure that wounds don’t develop where the wire was tight. Then we will release him in a safer area.DSC_3159 - Copy

19th January 2017

Two more birds of prey have arrived in the past two days, a buzzard and a kestrel. The kestrel is a collision case, and looked quite subdued and was reluctant to stand at first, but today she is up and feeding herself. The buzzard has already been treated for parasites and infection by a vet in Falkirk, where it was found. It has been transferred to Hessilhead for rehabilitationP1120272 - Copy

A fox that came from East Kilbride has been recovering in the hospital. Last night he ate for the first time since his accident, and today he has been eating well. He is very shy, as you see, and will be happier in an outdoor enclosure tomorrow.P1120281 - Copy

January 18th 2017

A couple of nights ago we released two roe deer that had both been involved in road traffic accidents. They had been living in different sheds, and had never met. We simply left the doors of the runs open, so the deer could leave when they wished. To our surprise, next morning, both the deer were outside the enclosure where two young hand-reared deer are spending the winter. The deer were all interested in each other, and the young buck, that we had released, followed the older doe. The next night both the released deer ventured into the woods.    DSC_3063 - Copy

10th January 2017

We thought that some of you might be interested in popping along to this Hessilhead fundraising event on Saturday.


January 7th 2017

One of the buzzards that came in a couple of days ago is feeding himself. He has been wormed, so should gain weight now. The other one has an eye problem, though it can see well enough to lash out with its feet and hit the target!. Hopefully it will start eating soon.The peregrine is causing more concern. It still has a head tremor, despite treatment, and is being tube fed. Surprisingly the scaup is self feeding. it gobbles up mealworms from a bowl of water. It is getting better on its feet so we hope to take it back to Irvine soon. A flock of Scaup spend a lot of time on the boating pond at The Magnum.

Two bats were released yesterday, and a hedgehog and a robin today. The kestrel will be released tomorrow.dsc_3141-copy