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 Diary page 2

27th March 2017

The first fox cubs have arrived. On Saturday 3 cubs were found in a garage in Irvine. The lady of the house was sure they hadn’t been there previously, and had tried to give them sugar water. There was another smaller cub, sadly dead. All are feeding weell and although their eyes are still closed, they are active. Hence a photo of one sleeping cub. When awake they just won’t stay still.P1120419 - Copy

Fox cub number 4 came today, after spending a cosy night at Hamilton Police Office, where staff made sure he was kept warm and called him Chester. He is fedeing well too, and tomorrow will be introduced to the 3 cubs.P1120447 - Copy

There has been a steady intake of swans. A second swan from Kilbirnie loch had swallowed line but no hooks. A swan from Ardeer has bites on its neck, probably inflicted by a mink.A swan from Castle Semple Loch had a broken toe, and a cygnet from Lochmaben has damaged carpal joints.

Today Bryan the seal was released. It was a perfect day for a trip to the seaside, flat calm and sunny. Hopefully bryan is enjoying his freedom.

An influx of young pigeons have been joined by nestling collared doves.P1120437 - Copy

On returning from a few days away last week we checked all the badgers. The two that had fractures are walking fine now, so soon we’ll be making arrangements for their release. The temperature is much warmer this evening. Hopefully that will last and we’ll get lots of our hedgehogs into gardens with hedgehog houses.

No garden bird nestlings yet, but today I was watching a pair of long-tailed tits building a nest.

We thought you would like to see the baby pipistrelle that was born in care at Hessilhead 4 weeks ago.DSC_3356 - Copy

9th March 2017

We didn’t expect another badger to be delivered on Sunday evening. That makes 3 adult badgers in the hospital this week, and they have required a lot of attention.

The Lockerbie badger is eating well now and will move outsdie soon. The Dumfries badger starting eating last night and his wounds seem to be healing well. The little female badger from Eaglesham is still quite lethargic. She likes food from a syringe but hasn’t eaten from a bowl yet. No doubt she will.

P1120350 - Copy

The swan from Kilbirnie Loch had an operation on Monday to remove the 2 treble hooks from its throat. He is still bad-tempered and throws a tantrum when its time for antibiotics. Hopefully he will soon be back with his mate.

P1120364 - Copy

Today’s patients include a tawny owl that fell down a chimney. It is quite sooty and has a lot of gravelly bits stuck to its tail and flight feathers. It is a skinny bird with a brood patch, so may have been nesting in the chimney. A swan was rescued from between lock gates in Glasgow. A piar of territorial swans had him pinned against the lock gate, water pouring over him.

Last night’s day old rabbit is doing well so far. It had been dug up by a dog,  has a toe missing and a swollen leg. Seems to like his bottle.

The leveret is feeding better now, and eating lots of dandelions. Still very nervous though.

P1120366 - Copy

5th March 2017

It has been more of a mammal week than a bird week. The badger from Lockerbie was x-rayed. The problem with right front leg is an old fracture that is healing nicely. It was still badly concussed at start of week, so gave homeopathic treatment as well as conventional. Often gives excellent results. Progress was steady, and badger has progressed from being syringe fed to standing and lapping from a bowl unassisted.DSC_3312 - Copy

This afternoon another was admitted. It has already received veterinary treatment for territorial bites on rump. He is very alert and active, so hope he feeds well tonight.DSC_3313 - Copy

As I write badger number 4 is being brought into the hospital. Never had so many adult badgers in care.

4 hedgehogs went to Stranraer today, and by now they should be settled in their new hoggy houses. 2 hedgehogs were admitted earlier in the week, probably woken from hibernation and discovered very little food available.

We now have two young rabbits, both eating well, so within a week they should be together. We have a leveret too, maybe 10 to 14 days old, but she was caught by a cat and badly bitten on her front legs. it is difficult to see if she can walk properly, as she is so shy and nervous that she crouches down whenever I approach the cage. I persuade her take half a bottle of milk twice a day, and she nibbles some vegetation as well.P1120344 - Copy


Bird news …  a buzzard, a song thrush, a magpie and a chaffinch released this weekend, 3 swans released earlier in week, Sadly today we rescued a swan that has swallowed two treble hooks. That will be a job for the vet tomorrow.

27th February 2017

A busy weekend has brought in a variety of new patients. On Saturday a new fox arrived. He was very subdued, with some bruises and cuts; probably a road traffic victim. He is making good progress now, and has been eating.DSC_3283 - Copy

A badger is another lucky road traffic victim. Unusually he was picked up by the driver who unavoidably hit him. The badger was made comfortable in a large dog crate with a soft bed, and we drove down to Lockerbie to collect him yesterday. Still a bit subdued, and there may be a problem with his right front leg, but he has wandered around his cage and been eating too. DSC_3291 - Copy

A coot was lucky to be found after getting tangled in fishing line that tied its legs together. Lots of vegetation had got caught in the line, and then the coot got snagged on a fence. Although there are deep cuts on the coot’s legs, there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage. The coot is walking around, and today has been enjoying pond weed as well as some wild bird food.

DSC_3296 - Copy


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. 
DSC_3271 - Copy

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