I am delighted, to be able to tell you that we have finally secured full agreement with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to lease land at their Blakehill Nature Reserve near Cricklade for construction of our new rescue centre.
It has been a long process but with planning consent already given we are now able to start work in earnest in finalising design, updating projected costs and appointing contractors. We are fortunate to have the services of sympathetic professionals at favourable rates and financial support from various sponsors, notably Dialog Semiconductor in Swindon who are fully funding our new hedgehog hospital. Generous donations from individuals and various trusts mean that the anticipated BASIC cost of the new facility is now fully funded but fundraising must continue to cover the unexpected, increases due to delays and provision of much needed additional facilities and staff. An upsurge in the economy and building projects continues to increase material costs. A big and very sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to help make all this possible.
We anticipate that the project will be in two parts. The main building and associated construction will be a formal building site which will be fenced off. Site safety will be paramount. The remainder of the site will house various outbuildings, pens, aviaries, ponds, parking areas etc. Volunteers will be sought for these activities and I would like to invite those interested to contact me (details below) for more details. I plan to arrange organised site visits to explain what is involved. At this stage we anticipate having the new centre up and running by Spring 2015 ready for the busiest season of the year
There is a huge amount to do but I am confident that this agreement has secured the long term future of Oak and Furrows and will enable us to continue and expand our services and facilities for the benefit of our wildlife. The partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will play a large part in this as we have so much in common and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. The location on a 600 acre nature reserve could not be more appropriate. The future is very bright and there are exciting times ahead.
Once again thank you for your invaluable and much appreciated support.
Relocation Project Manager
01666 860789 07803 585954 firstname.lastname@example.org
A big thank you to ‘Jokers’ Masquerade’ for donating some fancy dress items to us, we will be putting them to good use in our fundraising events.
Check out their website http://www.joke.co.uk/ They are the only fur free fancy dress retailer in the UK accredited by Respect for Animals Educational Trust.
One day last week we had a scare when Woody our resident green woodpecker turned up looking very poorly. She had been acting odd for the past couple of days, always wanting to be in the treatment room or trying to get Katia’s attention, we guessed that it was due to the very bad weather.
She was extremely fluffed up on this one morning and sitting on the window ledge with her eyes closed. Both Serena and Katia were very worried about her so decided it best to bring her in. She put up no fight and seemed relieved to be in the warm. When Katia picked her up she could see how thin she was, and that she needed help immediately. She was put into a heated tank with fresh food and lectade. Katia sat by her hoping that she was going to pull through. Serena encouraged her to drink the lectade and this helped. We contacted the vets and they prescribed her with a course of antibiotics. We were all very worried about her, Katia would ring up to check on her on her days off and volunteers couldn’t believe she was ill. She stayed in the treatment for a few days but was soon starting to get better and bored and destroying everything in sight.
We could hear her mate calling on the land and Serena couldn’t bear to keep her away from him on Valentine’s day, so let her out.
It’s amazing that this bird knew who to turn to when she was feeling poorly and the trauma of being handled by us and put in a cage has not fazed her at all. She still comes everyday for her mince beef and mealworms and is certainly making up for not eating properly for a few days.
‘Honey’ the muntjac fawn is coming on leaps and bounds; she is starting to eat more vegetation, her favourite being ivy and bramble as well as munching on carrot, apple and broccoli. She also likes nothing more than sticking her nose into a heap of soil and licking it off. There is lots of nutrition in the soil for her. She will be moving to her bigger pen later this week where she will be able run and skip about a bit more. I’m sure she will love it.
We saw a first for us this week at the centre, a female Teal duck. We have never encountered one of these at the centre before. They are such a dainty and pretty duck. This little one flew into someone’s kitchen window in Gloucester. She has a wound to her neck but a course of antibiotics has cleared this up and she is now enjoying some fresh air in one of our outside aviaries.
We currently have a patient in with us who we have nicknamed ‘Sooty’. He is tawny owl who fell down someone’s chimney. Luckily the chimney was not a light at the time but the poor owl still got covered in soot and has very sore eyes due to this. Every morning the inside of his cage is black from the soot coming off his feathers. He has had regular baths and is due to go back the vets this week to check on his eye. Then he will soon be released back to his territory.
A call from Swindon came in this week when a lady reported a grey lag goose wandering up her drive way. She tried to shoo it off but with no avail it just stood there looking at her. Stuart went along to access the situation, and it seemed that it was a very friendly goose who liked the company of humans.
This week we saw the arrival of a week old muntjac fawn. We had a call from a vets in Stroud to say that they had had a young deer brought into them early that morning. We are not sure on the background of the story and it could be a case of it shouldn’t have been picked up, however it was now in our care and there was no going back. She was a little stubborn on the first day what with everything being new and scary humans starting at her, but by the next morning she was taking her bottle well. Serena has given her the name ‘Honey’.
People often mistakenly assume that if a fawn is found alone then it is orphaned. A doe deer (female) only nurses her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. The fawn is too young to travel; it can’t run so the best protection from predators is to lie very still, since predators hunt by movement. If the fawn is calm, quiet and sat in an upright position with its legs tucked under it then it is ok and needs to be left alone. Once the fawn is two to three weeks old, its ability to run is greater and its reaction may be to get up and run, rather than lie still. Always give your local wildlife centre a call if you are concerned about a young animal.
Serena is always playing jokes on me and this week I fell for one. I arrived at work early one morning to find a note on one of the cages. It read ‘Blanc Oiseau’,’blown off course needs to be returned to grid reference 247 859, ask Stuart. Not sure what it eats so please look it up. Be warned it is very jumpy’. Looking into the cage I saw a very pretty bird no bigger than a blackbird. Serena came over telling me the story of how it came to us and asking if I had looked it up yet, so I started to look in the British Bird book. Serena told me not to be silly as it wasn’t British, I said it sounded very French and would it need to be returned to France. Serena left rather abruptly after I said that. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I had a few spare minutes that I decided to look up this bird on the internet. After typing in the name a few times the only thing coming up was the name of a French plane. I marched over to Serena’s house saying that there was no such thing as a ‘Blanc Oiseau’, you must have spelt it wrong. Where upon she burst out laughing and said ‘I love you Tori’. I had fallen for the joke, ‘Blanc Oiseau’ simply means white bird. And this little guy was just a white Japanese quail. I had my suspicions when I first saw the bird that it could just be a quail, and that they had got over excited and thought it was some exotic bird. Serena wasn’t alone in thinking up this joke, Stuart and Paul where in on it too!!!
We have hopefully the last of our baby birds about to fledge this week. Three swallows and two house martins who are eagerly awaiting a fine dry day to be released just in time for their migration.
A buzzard that has been with us for the past month was successfully released this week near Bibury. A gentleman found him on the side of the road after being hit by a vehicle. He took him straight to the vets and we picked him up later that day. We had him checked over by our bird specialist who identified that he had a serious wound on the base of his tail, which had become infected and full of maggots. It was decided that it was worth saving the bird but it would take at least three weeks for the wound to heal. The wound had to be bathed daily and cream applied to the infected area. The buzzard soon became aware of what awaited him every morning and started to get very annoyed with us all. Luckily just after a week of bathing, the wound was becoming smaller and we were advised to let it scab over. Once the scab had disappeared he was ready for release. So after a month in our care away he went.
The second litters of squirrels have been keeping us busy at the centre for the past couple of weeks. We have eight in total who are just being weaned of their milk and happily enjoying eating nuts and gnawing on wood. Just a few more weeks and they will be ready to go and stock up on food supplies for the winter.
We are preparing for the winter intake of hedgehogs, so if you have any spare newspapers, towels or fleeces the hedgehog patients will be very grateful. Also they will be eating us out of cat and dog food, so this is in demand too.
We would like to say a big thank you to the company ‘Dialog’ who are based in Swindon, for raising over £750.00 for us through a charity dinner event and for also donating a Dell laptop to the centre as well. Both things will be put to very good use.
This week has been much quieter and calmer compared to the last few weeks. We are seeing lots of pigeons and hedgehogs being admitted, but at the same time we have been able to release some of our juvenile hedgehogs back out into the wild. This slightly damper weather will help them in their foraging and all the homes they have gone too have nice hedgehog houses and a good food supply thanks to lovely people who have taken them.
Every night at around 9pm, whoever is at the centre, must down tools and put out the food for our local hedgehogs. They are always eagerly waiting under the picnic bench for their cat/dog food or any left over baby bird mixture we might have. We have four regular visitors two of which are only this years young so hopefully one of the larger ones is mum hedgehog. The first one that came for food this spring we nicknamed ‘Oafy’.
As we are getting more and more hedgehogs in we are desperately in need of more tinned cat/dog food and tinned puppy food. If you would like to donate any food to us then please do so, it will feed a lot of hungry little mouths who will be very grateful.
We are pleased to report that the red kite was successfully released last week. Katia and Paul chose a beautiful day to release it. After playing dead in the box for a few seconds it swiftly made its way out of the box and flew straight over to a clump of trees on the other side of the field. A happy ending for all.
We had an interesting creature in this week, when one of our volunteer drivers brought us in a bat from a local vets. When it arrived I could see that it wasn’t a common Pipistrelle but instead something larger. In fact I thought it was huge compared to the little pips we are use to. It was only a pup as it still had long facial features so it meant identifying it was harder as it wasn’t at its maximum size yet. After searching through pages of a bat book and even getting Paul to come to the centre late that night we were still unsure on what species it was. Wanting to give it the best care we could we contacted a local bat career who was able to identify it from phone photos. It was a Serotine bat, identified by the tragus shape in its ear and the location in which it was found. They are a large European bat with large ears and have a wingspan of around 37cm. Ideally the pup should of been placed back into its roost but as we had no idea where that was we were advised to keep it rehydrated for the night and then to contact another career who hand rears these types of baby bats. The following day it went to its new home.
A few weeks ago we had a call from a lady who thought she had found six abandoned otter cubs. She was only down the road so myself and Stuart went to investigate. On arrival we could see two ladies sat on a patch of concrete with six bundles of fur crawling around. They were not otter cubs but instead polecats. It was an unusual situation as they were found crawling around this small patch of concrete where cars would park in the blazing sun with no sign of a parent around. We were slightly unsure on what to do as leaving them could result in them crawling into the road. We also were not aware that there were polecats in the area. We took them back to the centre and very shortly after we arrived back we received a call from one of the employees of the local lakes confirming that there had been sightings of two adult polecats in that area that same day. Luckily we had only briefly handled them so we took them straight back. As we got out of the van I spotted one of the adults in the bush, so we placed all six babies safely into the bush away from the road and hoped that the parents would look after them. We later went back that same day and they all had disappeared so hopefully they got reunited with their real parents.
These polecats were only about 20cms in length, but will grow to be around 60cms long. They are part of the weasel family and are distinguished by their dark black/brown bodies with creamy patches on the ears and face. They are solitary, nocturnal animals who spend the day in dens. So in this instance we can only assume that the parents were in the process of moving them to a new location when they were found.