Hogs are keeping us all extra busy

It’s all hands on deck at the trust these days with around 50 hedgehogs needing clean bedding and fresh food on a daily basis.

By Elfrieda Waren, Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust
Saturday, 20 April, 2019, 14:31
Feeding time

Mucking out hutches and preparing meals is now done on an industrial scale, with all the bowls collected in at once, washed and dried, filled with meaty loaf-style pet food and mealworms, and returned to the clean cages with water to wash it down.

Soon the people who originally brought them in – or our kind supporters who have gardens leading to fields, hedgerows and woodland – will be collecting the hogs for release.

At first the hogs will still be left a nightly bowl of food until they get their bearings and head off to fend for themselves.

Thanks to the generosity of the people who have sponsored hogs, brought in food and supported the trust in so many other ways, we will have helped these underweight or injured hogs survive over winter and given them the time they needed to recover their strength.

Who knows how many tiny hoglets they will go on to produce, but at least we’re helping to ensure the area keeps its healthy hog population into the future.

While on the subject of future generations, teacher Hazel Miller called at the Rollo Centre last week to drop off some loaf-style pet food, hand towels and newspapers, all of which are welcome in the running of a hedgehog B&B.

Hazel was telling me how the children of Class 2 at Chirnside Primary School were doing their bit to help wildlife by looking after the natural environment around them.

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Kay had given a talk on the trust’s work there back in October, and the children had been so enthused they’d put together a fantastic ‘hog hamper’ and donated it to us. Hazel said that the children looked forward to ‘Mucky Mondays’ where they regularly go for nature walks and litter-picks in the woodland close to the school.

The young swans that came in last summer as fluffy cygnets are also due to be released any day now. Their white adult plumage has almost grown in completely, but their dark grey beaks show they’re still juveniles.

They probably won’t breed for another year yet so they have plenty of time to establish themselves as part of the resident swan population on the Tweed.

The only swan that will remain at the Rollo Centre is the lovely Harry, who came in from Wooler underweight and weak.

Harry will be with us a while longer as he still has pink feathering, which is a sign of a bacterial infection.

Although the effect looks quite attractive from a human point of view, the underlying infection causes the feathers to lose their natural waterproofing and in serious cases the swan can lose buoyancy.

Although swans have a reputation for aggression, and some of them are a bit on the feisty side it has to be said, Harry has the gentlest nature around humans and swans.