Wildlife victims of Beast from East

Just when we were beginning to think about the warmer weather and looking forward to longer days, The Beast from the East caused major disruption across the country, and then just last weekend, a mini beast blew in for a brief encore.

Saturday, 24th March 2018, 2:36 pm
A young fulmar which was rescued.

During the worst of the snow and biting winds, work at the Rollo Centre still had to go on.

Someone needed to be at the trust for the animals’ evening feed, and to ensure the mealtime and cleaning routine was carried out the next day.

Jackie couldn’t get home for two days because all bus services were suspended but fortunately she was able to stay in Berwick for a couple of nights. Some volunteers were unable to make it in because they were snowed up in outlying areas, but those that could get to the Rollo Centre managed to keep going with the essential work.

Most of the hedgehogs in Hotchi Mews, the outdoor hutches, slept right through the snow and sub-zero temperatures, deep in their winter hibernation. But as usual there was one that bucked the trend. Kay said the little guy in Charlie’s Bothy awoke every single night, even in the most bitter weather, ate all the wet food in his bowl, then tucked himself back into his straw bed again.

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It was obvious from the local news reports that coastal wildlife had suffered a battering from the extreme cold and driving winds, with both seabirds and marine life being washed up on beaches up and down the North East coast. At the trust, two exhausted guillemots were brought in, and the following week a young fulmar was also rescued.

The pond was frozen solid for a full week so the swans had been grounded, but finally there was enough of a thaw to allow them back on the water.

Kay broke the last covering of ice with a broom and Jackie herded them into the enclosure. What happened next (as they say on social media) was amazing.

One of the two muscovies was quietly rinsing a piece of lettuce at the edge of the pond before eating, then suddenly about 10 large cygnets barged him out of the way to launch themselves in the water, whereupon they whipped up a storm of frenzied flapping back and forth creating waves and foam and splashing. I’ve posted a 45-second video clip on the trust’s YouTube channel for you to see the commotion – and the swans’ obvious euphoria – on http://bit.ly/2FMZ9kc

The cold has forced our garden birds to be more brazen than usual in the quest for food.

For the last couple of Wednesdays while I’ve been cutting up bread and adding mealworms to the swans’ food buckets, a female blackbird has flown in to watch me at work. Then when she thinks no one’s looking, she swoops down and gobbles as many mealworms as she dares before flying off again.

I think the volunteers aren’t the only ones looking forward to spring.