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



24th June 2013

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You must be wondering what has been happening at Hessilhead since the last diary update in May. Well, lots. We have had more than 650 new patients. Many of these are youngsters that have needed lots of care, and we also had a very busy and successful Open Day.

Throughout the month mallard ducklings were rescued from strange situations. Some were in enclosed yards, like at Blades hairdressers in Kilmarnock. Another family group was found walking along the rail track at Queen St Station. Some of our mallards have been released, and one group is has decided to stay at the centre, visiting younger ducklings and gobbling up slugs and worms. We also have a seven tufted ducklings, real cuties.

We reared two clutches of pied wagtails. One nest was found in a pallet of goods delivered to Sainsbury’s in Stewarton. As they donate left over bread and veg to Hessilhead, they knew who to call staightaway. All now released.

We have 32 fox cubs now. Most have come as singles, but there was a big rescue in Glasgow, when David and Leianne went underground beneath tenement buildings, into a dark and dingy cellar. They found one cub immediately, and two dead ones. Something made then search further, and they found 5 cubs trapped in an old water tank. They wouldn’t have been able to jump out till they were almost fully grown, and their mother couldn’t have provided them with food all that time. One cub was very tame when brought here, having been hand reared in a house, playing with dogs. It is integrating well with our wilder cubs.

We have two badgers, one was found in a garden in Lanark, with a badly injured leg, the other was a stunted youngster that had spent two afternoons foraging on a grass verge beside dual carriageway at East Kilbride. They have both made good progress and are sharing an enclosure.

The busy deer season had us out at all hours collecting road traffic accident casualties, and some of them we got back to the wild.

We have hatched more than 100 common gulls from eggs taken from Faslane, where the gull colony in the car park causes problems. All doing well.

Lots of magpies and jackdaws have been successfully reared. The first batch have been released, but some of the very fat jackdaws are still begging for food. In a week or two they will be free as well. Two oystercatcher chicks were rescued from East Kilbride, after falling from a roof. One had a broken leg, that has healed well. They have just started to fly, so will be off on their soon.

Three young Great Spotted woodpeckers are in care now. Still being hand fed, but showing an interest in a peanut feeder. We have enjoyed watching a young spottie being fed by its mum at our feeders.

As our Open Day approached we wondered if we’d have any cygnets for visitors to see. An hour before opening time, our rescue team arrived back at the centre with a family group from Greenock, the losers of the usual battle at the Thom St/ Murdieston Dams. They settled in the enclosure straightaway. I am sure the adults have been here before.. We now have another swan family from Bowling who nested in a silly place and couldn’t get their cygnets out of a lock. The next section of canal is occupied by another family group. The 3rd swan family was rescued last night. The male swan was savagely attacked by a dog and is quite badly injured. The female has just one bite on her back, and the little cygnet escaped without injury. The female and cygnet are in one of our enclosures, but the male must stay in the hospital to receive further treatment. Hopefully they will be reunited soon.

Other swans, including two from Castle Semple Loch, have been admitted with fishing tackle problems. One swan endured a lengthy operation to remove a hook from her throat, and another had its foot and leg tied together with treble hooks and a lure.

The late spring delayed the breeding attempts of many garden birds. They seem to be catching up now, and we are extra busy with young birds that would normally have been reared by now, as well as the usual suspects for this time of year. We have released blackbirds and thrushes, robins and dunnocks, blue, coal and great tits, but still have tiny blue tits in care. We have the first swallow chick too.

We have a hedgehog with babies. We haven’t seen the babies much, but hope that all is well. This week several emaciated hedgehogs have come into care. We wonder if this is the result of the late spring. We also had a hedgehog that was stuck to a glue board. This is a terrible trap for catching rodents, but is totally unselective and causes much suffering to any creature caught. It took us a long time to remove all the glue.

Andy and I are going on holiday tomorrow. Hopefully when we return our new web site will be up and running, and I promise regular updates to the diary then.

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