Better times are in store for '˜Billy'

Feeding time is always a fun part of volunteering at the trust.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 11:32 am
Billy No Mates

Just as with us humans when we’re hungry, animal manners can go out of the window and tempers can get frayed.

Billy No-Mates the cygnet (as I think of him) has been having a hard time fitting in after joining the group of siblings that were admitted as very young birds.

At mealtimes he was confined to the edge of the pond, and if he ventured in the water to grab a scrap of lettuce he’d be nipped firmly on the bottom by the other cygnets.

Swans are sociable creatures, Kay says, and groups do eventually settle down.

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But on last Wednesday’s shift, Billy’s fortunes finally seemed to change as another swan was brought in after being found in a weak state and underweight.

The plan was to put Billy with this new swan in another enclosure where they could keep each other company, but be apart from the more rambunctious cygnets.

The little three-legged female hedgehog I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is coming on in leaps and bounds – even without her fourth leg.

Kay had thought she’d been born without it, which she’d never seen before, but the next time I spoke to her, Kay said she’d finally found a tiny scar where the leg had been.

Kay thinks she may have caught it in something and had to pull herself free.

Amazingly, the injury has healed cleanly in the wild.

There’s more good news about this little hog.

She’s now completely clear of her mites and is really tucking into her food.

In fact, she is tucking in and enjoying her food so much that all the volunteers have instructions not to give her too big a ‘top up’ at night.

Last Friday evening I was asked to feed the three owls, which is always a treat.

The barn owl in the Claw and Talon quiet room needed two chicks and a mouse, a tawny in the under cover aviary also needed two chicks.

As I approached his box to collect the leftovers from the night before, he came swooping out and flew low over my head.

When I began volunteering at the Rollo Centre 18 months ago I’d had that childhood terror of flapping, fluttering wings from teasing my pet budgerigar at the age of three and would barely stand at the aviary door.

Now I’m striding over to a tawny owl’s nest box and just ducking when he bursts out above me. It is certainly an interesting way to conquer your fears.

And, finally, I fed the lovely, calm, pensive Errol the tawny, mascot of the Rollo Centre, who wouldn’t swoop at you if his tail were on fire.

I left his meal on his tree stump, picked up a discarded chick head from a previous repast, and replenished his bath bowl with fresh water.

Jackie and I left him in the gathering darkness contentedly swinging on the trapeze Jim had made for him, no doubt reminiscing about nights in the wild woods.