So many hungry mouths to feed

Seeing this season's influx of tiny fledglings to the Swan Trust has made me realise just how rapidly young wildlife actually grows '“ and how difficult it is for us humans to keep up with.

Saturday, 8th July 2017, 12:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 7:55 am
Fledgling thrush

The four little mystery hatchlings that had come in the week before turned out to be baby thrushes, their beautiful pale yellow and grey flecking only becoming apparent after a few days of life.

When I arrived for my usual Wednesday morning shift last week, Jackie said one had died, never having taken much food and seeming more lethargic than the other three.

The remaining birds were thriving, however, and every time someone walked into the room they would take it in turns to start up a repetitive cheeping for attention.

They were at that awkward stage where they were meant to be learning to feed themselves, but still hankered for ‘mum’ – Jackie with a pair of plastic tweezers – to pop minced meat into their beaks every 20 minutes or so.

But the changes in development take place almost on an hourly basis.

When I called in the next day to help with the evening feeding the three thrush chicks had noticeably grown in just 24 hours, and now there was no mistaking their distinctive thrush markings.

The 10 newly-hatched ducklings that were brought in just a few weeks ago have undergone a similar transformation.

They are now paddling and splashing their way round the large pool enclosure, eating the trust out of mealworms and lettuces, and will soon be off to the freedom of the banks of the Tweed.

The numerous gull chicks are also growing fast on the fresh fish, pet food and bread meals we make up for them.

Keeping all these hungry mouths fed costs money, of course, and as the trust depends entirely on the generosity of supporters, it constantly has to find different ways of reaching people and generating income.

To this end, Jackie and Kim were at the Castle Gate car boot sale on Sunday, June 25 and raised £59.10. They want to thank everyone who bought items on the day.

Anyone who is already planning ahead for Christmas might like to know that the trust’s 2018 calendar is now on sale, priced £7.50, and available from the Rollo Centre.

The calendar features many of the animals that were treated at the trust and comes with a 25th anniversary booklet, which charts the history of the trust from its beginnings right through to the present day.

For anyone who missed the trust’s open day, there’ll be another chance at the end of this month to see the animal ‘patients’, plus the new quiet room for larger wildlife, such as buzzards and badgers, which need a stress-free environment away from day-to-day activity.

The trust’s AGM and Open Day takes place on Saturday, July 29. Everyone is welcome to the Rollo Centre.