Our new wildlife facility is still not finished; there is so much to do!
The wet winter followed by snow and gales and yet more rain has not helped but somehow we must find more funds to finish the outside pens and new aviaries before spring and summer bring even more rescues needing our help.
Having successfully over wintered 280 little hedgehogs it is now fledgling season and orphaned baby birds and mammals are coming in daily. Normally in the spring and summer the only hedgehogs needing our help are injured adults and just a few orphaned babies. This year however due to the hot dry weather we are seeing fewer strimmer injuries, which is a good thing, but way more hoglets needing to be hand reared.
A VERY DEHYDRATED BABY HEDGEHOG
This is because with no rainfall for weeks now the ground is so hard that hedgehogs are unable to dig and find food or water and mother hedgehogs are unable to produce milk to feed their babies. Adults and youngsters alike, normally nocturnal, are foraging during the heat of the day and are being attacked by flies and ticks.
Not just hedgehogs are suffering from the lack of water, but birds and other mammals are equally affected. Birds are not able to dig for worms and insects and are therefore unable to feed their young, hence the increase in the number of fledglings, from birds of prey to the tiny gold crest, needing our help.
A LITTLE BABY OWL HIDES UNDER A NEST OF LOGS
Browsing animals such as deer are struggling to survive and venturing further into urban areas in their search for food and therefore more are involved in road traffic accidents.
You can help by leaving out shallow bowls of water along with bird food and a little moistened meaty cat or dog food (no fish please) and maybe a little hay. Please call PACT for advice if you are concerned about any wild creature in distress before approaching or capturing it.
A BABY SWIFT NEARLY READY TO FLY
IT WILL BE LAUNCHED FROM THE HAND AS THEY CANNOT LAND AND THEN TAKE OFF FROM THE GROUND.
SOME MORE OF OUR RECENT WILDLIFE RESCUES
DUCK WITH A BROKEN LEG
TWO VERY POORLY DUCKLINGS
FLEDGLING TAWNY OWL
ORPHAN GOSLING SUCCESSFULLY BEING HAND REARED
THRUSH FLEDGLING ALMOST READY FOR RELEASE
SPARROW HAWK WITH INJURED WING
THE SPARROW HAWK ABOVE REPAIRED AND READY FOR RELEASE
We have helped many birds of prey including this buzzard who came to us with a badly broken wing which our wild life vet pinned and repaired. He had to spend months with us gaining strength in our flight and here he is just about to be released back into the wild.
This kestrel is one of many who had suffered leg injuries and recovered to be able to fly free once more.
Barn owls are becoming a threatened species mainly due to loss of habitat thanks to so many farm buildings being converted into housing for humans. We were seriously concerned for this chap who was looking very weak on arrival and we were not hopeful for his chances but were delighted to say that he surprised us by, with lots of help and good food, becoming well enough to release.
We have had many deer who have been tragically hit by cars, many of whom have just not survived, but happily many have been nursed back to health and freedom. This rook is still fighting for life, another example of a wild creature not being brought into us quickly enough.
Please read the article below and when you find an injured wild animal or bird contact your nearest rescue as quickly as possible. They really do have a much better survival rate with experts and specialist medical intervention.
INJURED OR DISTRESSED WILDLIFE NEED HELP QUICKLY
Time is always of the essence when trying to help an injured or sick animal especially with wild life.
All too often we are called and asked to admit an animal or bird after the well intentioned finder has tried to care for it themselves for a few hours or even days, and all too often the poor creature dies or has to be euthanized for the lack of correct care quickly enough.
Whilst we are rushed off our feet and grateful for all the help we can get these patients do fare better when cared for by professionals. Therefore please call PACT for advice and if possible bring the animal along to be examined. We are happy to help people to try to care for the creature themselves when suitable but frequently we make the decision to admit the patient if that is in his or her best interest.
Whilst we take our 'no kill' policy seriously and euthanasia is always the very last resort we have to consider the long term welfare of our rescues and occasionally there is no alternative. We are happy to keep wild animals in captivity and give them the opportunity to adjust but try to give them the next best thing to living wild. Hence our Maurice Sparks wild life site where many animals and birds do live happily, but some just do not cope with unnatural confinement, wood pigeons and birds who feed on the wing are prime examples. We must always keep to our principle of 'what is best for the animal' and work together for them.
As a rule of thumb any wild animal or bird that can be approached and caught by a human being needs help fast. Serious injuries especially possible fractures must be assessed and treated quickly Hedgehogs must weigh at least 600 gms to be able to survive hibernation less than that the little hogs need our help.
When in doubt ask for advice.
Hedgehogs in June
by Kay Bullen, Trustee of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society
We make no apologies for including this excellent article: with the hot dry weather we are experiencing this years hedgehogs will once again be suffering and need our help.
This is the start of the breeding season and hoglets will be starting to arrive. You may already have seen the hedgehogs’ courtship with the huffing sounds and the male circling the female. Until she is ready to mate she will keep facing the male, so he will have to keep circling to try to approach from the rear.
If successful, after about 32 days 4-5 hoglets will be born. They are naked, so no fur or prickles and they are deaf and blind as well. Within a few hours their first set of prickles push through, they are white and in straight lines down the back. The brown prickles start to appear after around 36 hours but the fur takes a little longer. Eyes open at around 14 days with the ears opening a few days later.
The babies would not normally leave the nest, to forage with mum, until they are about 4 weeks old and at this stage they are miniatures of their mother. Hoglets that appear before they are 4 weeks old are often orphans and they need help. Signs that hoglets are in trouble include, being out in the day, being lethargic and wobbling, squeaking loudly, flies being attracted to them. They soon become hypothermic, dehydrated and the flies will lay eggs on them that hatch into maggots. Even the older ones will struggle if something has happened to mum. Quick action can save their lives. If you have any doubts about their wellbeing call your local rescue centre.
Until you are able to contact someone put the hoglet(s) indoors on a covered, hand hot, hot water bottle (replace water as it cools). Put this in a high sided box and place a towel over them to keep in the warmth and give some security. Very small hoglets with their eyes still closed will be not able to take solids; for bigger hoglets you could mix some water with mashed up meat based cat food to make it sloppy, Don’t try to force feed them. Hand rearing is very complex, so they should be passed to PACT or your local rescue centre as soon as possible.
If you only find one hoglet do bear in mind there could be others. Check your garden for more. If you have found the hoglet(s) on a walk, try to repeat that walk over the next 4-5 days or longer if possible to keep an eye out for any siblings that may also be in trouble. If you are concerned about any hoglets or adult hedgehogs contact your local rescue centre who can give general advice and offer to care for them if needed.
This poor Badger was found with terrible injuries, the cause of which we will never know, and brought to PACT by a caring couple who had tried both rescue centres and vets for help to no avail.
veryone seemed to afraid of handling a large wild badger or were not prepared to help. Vets just offered to euthanise without even trying and seemed scared of getting close enough even for that, until of course someone suggested PACT.
Naturally our team did everything we could, and our nurse Janet made an exceptionally efficient job of cleaning and stitching the wounds. Sadly, though it was too little too late and this poor boy passed away overnight. At least he had received pain relief and was made comfortable and we were happy that we had tried to save his life without causing further suffering.
FISHING HOOKS AND WILDLIFE - A SWAN'S STORY
PACT has a dedicated team for our wildlife here. We are always called out to various rescues for many species of animals. A very frequent problem we encounter is fishing hooks and wire caught up in water birds such as Geese, Swans and Ducks.
We would like to highlight the dangers fishing has on wildlife by telling you all about a recent rescue. We were phoned by a member of the public with concerns about a Mute Swan unable to fly due to masses of fishing wire wrapped around her body.
It took three attempts on 3 different days to catch the swan, although she couldn’t fly she was still very able to swim on the river. On our third attempt we had been told the swan was sitting in a field and hadn’t moved for 24 hours. We very quickly set off and once arrived we were instantly able to get hold of her. The fishing line was embedded in her neck so much that we were unable to do first aid there, so we had to bring her back to the sanctuary.
After being examined by our vet staff here and a specialist vet we managed to remove the hook and line. The hook looks to be home made and particularly lethal. She is recovering here at the sanctuary at the moment, but it is still touch and go as to whether she will pull through.
This poor little mite was seen with its parents struggling in the snow by a concerned passer-by. After watching it being left behind by its parents and finding its poor sibling had already succumbed to the elements, and seeking advice from staff at PACT, kind people brought it into us to be hand reared. It is very early in the year to have goslings but we also had another gosling brought in the same age from a different area so they are now together in our wildlife unit with and a teddy to cuddle up to.
This stunning bird was yet another victim of The Beast from the East.
Found staggering down a road its beak had iced shut and it was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. After being carefully warmed up by our vet staff it was then force fed and is currently recuperating in our vet unit where its condition continues to improve.
This spring, summer and autumn we have been very busy with wildlife especially fledgling birds. Whilst we do encourage people to leave fledgling bird alone until they are sure that no parent bird is hovering around waiting to feed their babies we have still taken in many for hand rearing. It is extremely important to be absolutely certain that any baby bird or mammal really does need to be rescued before handling it as the scent of human will cause the parent to abandon the baby as a safety precaution for themselves and other babies that they may produce. After all nature is always best and young of any species fares best when nurtured by the natural parent, having said that there are sometimes cases when a young creature does have to be rescued. Here at PACT we are proud to say that our wildlife team are very successful with hand rearing as these young swallows prove, they were fed from being very tiny by our Janet and successfully released back into the wild.
UNUSUAL GREY TAWNY OWL
This unusual grey tawny owl was found looking dazed in the middle of a road so it was assumed that it had been hit by a car. After only a few days of TLC the owl perked up and with encouragement started feeding. Once we were sure that it was able to fly properly and seemed strong enough it was successfully released in a safe area near to where it was found.
Kingfishers are extremely difficult to nurse back to health as they such shy creatures that they are usually very sick if they allow humans to handle them and become very stressed in captivity and often don't survive in spite of our best efforts. However this one was lucky and we were able to release him back into the wild.
Polecats until fairly recently were only found in the wild in Wales and Scotland but have now spread across the country and are being spotted in Norfolk. They are very shy animals and can be feisty so not easy to handle. We don’t know what had happened to this boy but clearly he was in trouble when he was collected by our team having been found in a car park by a supporter. He now seems very healthy, is eating well and will soon be released back into the wild.
We continue to admit many seagulls, both youngsters for hand rearing and older birds sick or injured. They usually do very well and are released either back where they were discovered if that is a safe site or onto one of our lakes where not only do they live quite happily but seem to grow in number not by breeding! Every day after breakfast we see them fly away only to return for supper and there appears to be many more. We are sure that they call to other gulls telling them this way to the free café for gulls. In fact rumour has it that they been observed putting signs advertising 'free food for gulls' with arrows pointing to PACT. Now gull food, mainly fresh fish, is expensive so if you agree that these graceful if rather noisy birds deserve to live in safety please donate generously to help with their cost.
Another successful release, this magnificent sparrow hawk was nursed back to health and once strong enough to fly and hunt was taken near to where found and flew so well and fast that the only photo we were able to capture was this one just before he flew away.
The negligence of a land owner almost cost the life of this young Roe buck when a drain was left without a cover and the deer fell down it. Fortunately a dog walker, who had already reported the danger to the farmer, discovered the hapless creature before he drowned to death or panicked and injured himself. Rescue organisations were called to help but as usual PACT attended first and Alex and her team were able extract the deer from the death trap. After being checked over to make sure that he was unharmed by his ordeal he was safely released and hopefully will learn to look before he leaps in future.
A TAWNY OWL, A CHINESE LANTERN AND A FIREMAN
The tawny owl was discovered by a member of the public who was walking along School Road Bradenham Norfolk last Friday afternoon 23rd September.
He was hanging about 20 feet up from a Chinese lantern wire by his legs. The Chinese lantern wire had become wrapped around a power line and the lantern itself had become trapped in a tree thereby stretching the wire between the tree and the power line. Read his rescue story here.
The basic building is at last finished. Electricity and plumbing are being worked on now and the mains will be connected on 20th November. Before then we have to furnish the empty rooms with housing and equipment to care for residents. We have decided on the special cages, pods and pools for the water birds. All we need now is the funds. If you would like to contribute, perhaps in memory of a loved one, please contact us.
This area is known as the Maurice Sparkes Memorial Wildlife Site. It is dedicated to the memory of a very dear man who was totally committed to the preservation of wildlife and animal welfare, and it is in his and others memory that funds were available to complete the work.
Included in the 15 acres at the Sanctuary, is an area of 2.5 acres with large ponds, which is dedicated to wildlife. A predator proof fence has been erected so that injured wildlife that would not survive in the wild can be released here to live as normal a life as possible in safety.
Recently PACT have been able to assist two local Elderly Residential Homes by removing families of young ducks, who were causing hazards to the residence and rehome them on the ponds in this area.