Joy and sadness part of day's work
Which would you like first '“ the good news or the bad news?
As a volunteer with the Swan Trust, although there are many amazing stories of rescue and recovery to tell, sometimes, unfortunately, the animals in our care don’t make it.
First the good news. Three very different birds were resident at the trust this week, when I was in doing my usual Wednesday morning stint of bread chopping and bowl washing.
Another injured barn owl was in the new quiet room, looking quite sorry for himself after being in a collision, but thankfully no fractures Kay said.
Outside, a young heron and an enormous adult black-backed gull were keeping each other with a rather uneasy company.
The heron had ended up in someone’s garden, so young it was unable to fly, and the gull had come from St Abb’s and was limping about with a swollen leg joint.
When you see birds up close as we do at the trust, it really brings it home to you how they vary in size; compared to the more slender herring gull, this black-backed lad was a real bruiser, stocky and muscular. But his injured foot was obviously giving him pain, as he didn’t like to put his (not inconsiderable) weight on it.
The heron looked completely bemused, “as if it had and wished it hadn’t” as my mother used to say. Hopefully, once it is able to fly it can get down to the Tweed for a spot of angling.
My bad news this week is the passing of little Dixon, the female hedgehog who couldn’t be released into the wild after overwintering with the trust because of her wheezy breathing.
She was homed in my enclosed garden in May and had done so well over the summer, enjoying her meaty pet food and mealworms and toddling about exploring behind the shed at night (her poo was the clue).
But when we’d had a few chilly evenings last month, I’d noticed she was eating less food and losing weight.
I thought it might be early hibernation, as she’d spent her first winter in the warmth of the trust recovery room and might not know when was cold enough to go to sleep.
I’d taken her in to the trust a few times so Kay could administer a short course of worming treatment and antibiotics to give her the best chance of a healthy hibernation.
But before her final treatment, she stopped eating altogether.
I checked her in her box, but didn’t want to prod her incase she was settling into her winter sleep. Sadly, when I took her to the Rollo Centre, Kay confirmed Dixon was dead.
It’s always sad when a creature we’ve worked so hard to help survive doesn’t make it, but actually, this has been a ‘good news’ story for Dixon.
She had a fabulous summer just “being a hog” as Kay says, a chance at life she would never have had otherwise.