Wildlife Rescue Trust
Caring for Scotland's injured and orphaned wildlife  


31st  December    2011

Best wishes to everyone for an enjoyable 2012

Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us during 2011. Almost 3000 wildlife casualties have been rescued with your assistance.


A variety of patients have come into care during the last few days of 2011. These have included well grown cygnets, nestling pigeons, a small hedgehog, a black headed gull, a heron and most unusual for us, a jay. The jay was found in a puddle, semi-conscious, at Twechar. It was cared for by Sylvia, one of our longest serving volunteers. The bird made a remarkable recovery, and although it had a brief stay at Hessilhead, it has now been released. Like all jays, this was a nervous patient, terrified of people and stressed while in a cage. I am sure that it flew away strongly, pleased to be free.

                              and Mel, looking forward to a fun new year. 'Thanks to everyone who threw a ball for me in 2011 '         

26th  December    2011

Not everyone gets a seal pup for Christmas! You couldn't help but fall in love with this one. Mistletoe is less than a week old and has had a hard time. She was being smashed against rocks when she was rescued from Prestwick beach on Christmas day, and also has bites, including a nasty one on top of her head. She has spent the last 24 hours under a heat lamp, been given fluids, wormer and antibiotics, and seems to think that life has taken a turn for the better.


and it wouldn't have been Christmas without a swan rescue!. X6668 was walking along the middle of the dual carriageway near Eglinton Country Park at lunchtime yesterday. Drivers were slowing down and swerving, and the swan seemed quite unconcerned. He has a bit of a limp, but nothing serious. He should be back in the wild for New Year.   

24th  December   2011

Merry Christmas to all our friends and supporters

It hasn't exactly been a run down to Christmas. The daily intake of patients has increased through the week. New arrivals include a 3 week old seal pup, this one from Spey Bay, a tawny owl from Lockerbie, a kestrel from Fenwick, a starling that was swinging from the top of a tree, with plastic thread around one leg. Several more hedgehogs have come into care, and a few swans too. At the small end of the scale there are bullfinches and a new pipistrelle bat. Back in the wild is a fox that was caught in a fence near Straiton, a shag, victim of the hurricane, a blackbird and starling, and more swans. We are hoping for a quiet day tomorrow......but who knows!

          18th  December    2011

The highlight of this week was releasing the first grey seal of the winter. When he weighed in at 47.5 kg on Monday, we were delighted. Then we recalled the forecast for stormy weather all week, and it looked like he would have to stay for a while longer. Fortunately the weather settled, and Thursday was a perfect calm day. One seal gone, 5 still in care.


Other casualties of the week included a fox from Straiton, making a good recovery, a barn owl from Girvan, also doing well, a cygnet from Bowling and a couple of hedgehogs. Three swans and a black headed gull were released today.

13th  December  2011

Last week's storms brought quite a few casualties to Hessilhead. A seal pup was brought from Montrose. This is quite a hefty pup, but was bleeding from the mouth when found. It is probably because of his sore mouth that he has been reluctant to feed. The past 2 days he has been hand fed, but today he has begun chewing fish himself. On Sunday evening a small pup was brought down from Stornoway. This little pup had been in care for several days, but owing to the ferry disruption it couldn't leave Lewis till today. Then late on Monday evening another small pup was brought across from Newcastle!  Tammy from Stornoway is self feeding, though she makes quite a mess; Geordie is being hand fed, but I'm told she is very co-operative.                                         


Our oldest seal was weighed today.....47.5 kg. That means he is ready for release, but with more stormy weather forecast he may be here for another week.

 We expected seabirds to be in trouble, but only 2 shags were found the day after the hurricane. Both these birds, one adult and one juvenile, are underweight, but they are feeding well. They have been wormed, so will hopefully gain weight soon.


Then came the unexpected. A strange bird was reported in trouble on the shore of Strathclyde Loch on Saturday morning. One of the rangers collected the bird, identified it as a skua, and word soon spread among the local birders. When the skua arrived at Hessilhead it was weak and dehydrated, and its feathers are not in very good condition. It didn't look good. We were surprised how quickly it responded to fluid therapy, appearing much brighter by late afternoon. In the evening it greedily ate some fish. During the course of Saturday and Sunday photos were studied, measurements taken, experts consulted and the bird declared to be a pomerine skua. These are not British breeding birds. Pomerine skuas breed on the tundra, where they eat lemmings, and most of them spend the winter off the coast of West Africa. So in Britain they are seen on passage in spring and autumn. In flight they are easily identified by the spoon shaped tail streamers. Andy and I were fortunate to see one last year from the Uig to Lochmaddy ferry. In our bird these tail streamers have broken off, hence the ID dilemma. It is a particularly late record for a skua of any kind, and the bird may still be at this latitude because of its poor condition. It has been wormed and treated with antibiotics, and today it has been bathing. Hopefully the skua will gain weight quickly, but its feather condition will decide when it is time for release.


A buzzard  seems set to recover after looking really poorly all weekend. He was underweight. weak and has  most of the primaries from one wing broken. We also had concerns about his vision. Today he is perched on a block in his cage, wings spread and threatening. He is watching as we pass, and has started to feed himself. Of course it will be some time before this buzzard moults and grows new feathers; this would mean it spending a long time in care. An alternative would be to imp new feathers onto the wing. This involves taking the equivalent flight feathers from a dead buzzard, and stitching them onto the broken shafts. This could get our bird back to the wild much more quickly.

On Sunday morning Andy rescued a roe deer from Sundrum. The young buck has cuts on its legs, probably having been caught in a fence. It was very unsteady for 24 hours, but has settled down now and is eating. We are quite hopeful for this patient too.

3rd  December  2011

It hasn't been a busy week, but there have been enough patients coming in and requiring veterinary attention to keep us busy. Last weekend a short eared owl was brought up from Drummore, near Stranraer. It had a dislocated elbow. This is a nasty injury for birds, but the owl has been to vet, been x-rayed, had the bones manipulated into place, and is now receiving physiotherapy. Fingers crossed.                 


A barn owl has moved from the hospital to an outdoor flight, and is flying better than I expected. We have a kestrel, wing still strapped up, several new swans, including one that has had its fractured leg pinned. It is walking around in the swan hospital with its external fixators doing a great job. The vet is really pleased with her progress. This afternoon another barn was brought in from a farm not far from here. It was found in a hay shed that hasn't been visited for a few weeks. Somehow it got its leg tangled in the twine of a straw bale, and in its efforts to get free had got straw tightly wound around its leg too. The bird is very thin and weak, but is looking better since spending some time in a heated cage and having had fluids by tube.

Over the past 2 weeks we have taken in 5 lovely lop-eared rabbits that were apparently dumped on Ardrossan North Shore. They had been well cared for and are friendly, and they particularly like each other's company. So if anyone could offer a home to 2 or more rabbits, please get in touch.

     28th  November  2011

Last weekend was great for releases. It was good to see the badger go, the one that had been trapped in the ice pit. The people who called us out came too. They were able to show us the exact location of the badger sett, so the badger was released close to home. 3 foxes, 16 hedgehogs and a tawny owl were released too. The tawny owl had fallen down a chimney, and from what I hear had made a bit of a mess in the room where it landed. Hopefully the people have taken our advice and capped the chimney now.   


This week Andy and I spent a few days in Lincolnshire. We went to see the seals at Donna Nook, and it was well worth the journey. Apparently there were 1112 seal pups there last week, though I didn't count them!  The breeding population of grey seals there is increasing year by year. We can recommend a visit.



14th  November   2011

We had a really busy weekend, and 6 more patients were brought in today.

On Saturday a seal pup was delivered from Caithness. It was a long way for it to travel, but apparently the weather has been pretty stormy in the far north east of Scotland, and the seal centres on the east coast are full. The seal was none the worse for its journey, and is now taking fish without too much trouble. A cygnet came from Greenock. It was being bullied by Mum and Dad, but will soon be released with a non breeding flock. In the evening we released 2 swans and 2 hedgehogs. A juvenile hedgehog had been admitted earlier in the day.

Sunday was hectic. An otter was delivered from Arran. It was a large male otter, found on the road, with a suspected back injury. It was scheduled to go to the vet today, and we were surprised and sad to find it had died overnight. Another seal pup was delivered, this time from Nairn. This pup is barely 3 weeks old, and still had its white baby coat. It has been rehydrated, and is now eating large sardines willingly.


On Sunday afternoon Andy was called out to rescue a badger. The badger had fallen into an ice pit in the grounds of a mansion house in East Ayrshire. There was a tunnel entrance, and then a smooth sided circular pit 15 feet deep. This has a domed roof, so light levels were low at the bottom of the pit. At the bottom of the pit were lots of boulders, rubble and other debris. When Andy arrived the badger was out of sight, beneath boulders. It is amazing that anyone saw it there. Andy went down ladders, moved boulders, retrieved badger and put her in a carrying box, all in semi-darkness. He couldn't examine the animal till he returned to Hessilhead. We were delighted to see that she could run around an enclosure ....no broken legs! She will be returned to her territory when she has regained  some weight, and we have made sure that the wire grill covering the entrance to the pit has been repaired. While at the bottom of the pit Andy found a badger skull, so a previous casualty hadn't been so lucky.



A swan came in from Ardrossan, a road rescue, and another young hedgehog came in, this one weighing less than 300gm. There is no doubt that it will be here till spring.

This morning we took another call from British Divers Marine Life Rescue.  Another seal pup had been rescued at Lybster, did we have space for this pup too?  It was delivered late this afternoon, while Andy and I were out collecting a tawny owl that was found at the bottom of a dustbin containing a few inches of water. The seal pup has settled in and the tawny owl has dried out. Another swan was delivered.

       9th  November  2011

Today we were called to Asda in Irvine. A swan was trapped on the flat roof of the building,  unable to take off because of the 4' wall surrounding the roof. Apparently it had been there since Monday, perhaps even longer. It was an easy rescue, with steps up to the roof, and a hungry swan that couldn't go anywhere. We soon had it bagged on its way back to Hessilhead. As you'd expect, the swan was thirsty, but none the worse for its adventure.


and photos of the otter cub that came from Langholm a couple of weeks ago.


I hope you are remembering that Friday night is Quiz Night. Our fund raising evening will take place in the Outdoor Bowling Hall, Kilmeny Terrace, Ardrossan, at 7.30. Teams of up to 5 welcome. Admission £3.

          8th  November  2011

Toni was at Irvine harbour early yesterday. She spotted a swan with fishing line dangling from its neck, encouraged it over forfood and managed to catch it. It was fairly easy to remove the hook that was embedded in the front of the neck, but we were concerned about a hard swelling on the back of the neck. Today the swan was taken to the vet for x-rays and treatment. I have just heard that the lump was a decaying fishing hook, one that had been there for some time. There is some infection associated with this, but of more concern is the calcification on the vertebra. This will be permanent, and might affect movement in the neck.


Another patient that came in yesterday was a woodcock. This bird was found in Kilmarnock, and some feather damage and bruising suggested collision. At this time of year many continental woodcock arrive in the UK, and most years a few will come into care. They are mostly collision cases. Perhaps they are confused by city lights. When we returned home from a meeting last night and went into the hospital, the woodcock exploded from the box. It had clearly recovered. This morning we released him in our wood, and he posed just long enough for a pic.


During the bright weather I took some photos of the young deer that are spending the winter in our woodland enclosure.


and some of the badgers too


           6th  November  2011

We are just back from releasing a roe buck in Linwood. We rescued it a week ago, after it had been hit by a car on the main road just off the A737. The animal was concussed and bruised, and that first evening we were concerned that there might be a back injury. It was treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, and by late the following day the buck was able to stand, albeit a bit wobbly. during the wekk the buck improved, and by friday he was doing high jumps when we opened the shed door. He has been drinking, but only eating a little vegetation. It was bit tricky giving him the injection to sedate him for travelling, but we managed this without him getting too distressed. That meant he soon lost consciousness. We lifted him into the back of the car, drove to Linwood, and gave him the antidote to the sedative. We released him in a field a little further away from the roads, but if he was in the habit of crossing the road before the accident, he will probably continue to do so. Hopefully he'll be a bit more careful.

Now we are waiting for Colin to arrive with 16 hedgehogs from the Uists. This will be the last batch this year. We understand that most of them are heavy enough for release, so we are hoping that this frost won't last too long.

             30th  October 2011

A few days ago an otter cub was spotted in the park in Langholm. The cub didn't seem to be frightened of people, in fact it was following children who were playing there. Sometimes the cub would stop, lie down and call, a high pitched whistle. There was no doubt that this little cub had lost its mum, and was very hungry.  The cub is doing well now, eating trout, salmon and day old chicks. She is more independent than when she arrived, preferring not to be handled at all or even seen very much. When she is older she will join the male cub that is doing well in an outdoor pen. Getting two orphan otter close together is not exactly fortunate, but it is good that they will grow up together.

Last week a cygnet was brought in from Castle Semple Loch. It has an injury to the end of its beak, which looks rather as if it has been attacked by a large mammal. It could have been an otter!


Two weeks ago a farmer came in with a buzzard that he'd found on the road. By the time the bird arrived here, it was quite lively, but apparently it was easily picked up an hour earlier. The buzzard was ready for release the following day, and as usual, it was taken back to where it was found. The buzzard was ringed, and a quick look through our records told us that it had been reared at Hessilhead in 2008. 

A couple of days ago we were called out to rescue an owl that had been found on the road, only a few miles from Hessilhead. When we arrived the bird had scuttled into a bush, but it was easily retrieved. The owl, a tawny, was concussed, and has a sore left wing. It was ringed too.......a youngster that we reared and released in 2010. These are good news stories, telling us that our birds are surviving after release.

The grey seal pup is self feeding now, and chomping his way through 15 or so herring every day. I thought you'd like to see him now.                             


  14th  October  2011

Our first grey seal pup of the year was found today on Prestwick Beach. He still has some white coat, indicating that he should still be at the breeding colony, and still being fed by mum. However, he is a reasonably good weight, 14kg, which probably means that he hasn't been away from mum for too long. He does have quite a lot of bites, requiring antibiotic treatment, and we will worm him too. He will be get fluids only for 24 hours, then fingers crossed, he will eat fish.


Other patients of the day included a tawny owl (broken wing, still with the vet), a badly injured buzzard (broken leg and compound wing fracture), a pheasant, also hit by a car and a sparrowhawk that was found on the road.

       13th  October  2011

Mione runs Glendrick Roost, a domestic animal rescue service based near Fintry. She often gets calls about injured and orphaned wildlife, and is always willing to collect these and bring them to Hessilhead, no matter how late at night that may be! On Monday Mione was here with a cygnet that had been found earlier on the West Highland Way. It is a little scrap of a thing, weighing only 4kg, so it is difficult to know how it came to be on Scotland's most popular long distance walk. In common with many of the hikers, it does have a swollen inflamed ankle, and hobbles around with a limp. We gave the cygnet fluids, vitamins,  antibiotics and wormer, and it spent the first night in a heated cage. Now it goes for a swim on the indoor pool each day, but returns to the hospital at night. Last night Mione was back with a hedgehog. This is a big hedgehog, in contrast to the many autumn juveniles that are coming in now. The hedgehog was rescued from a rat trap (that is the trouble with traps, they are all indiscriminate). It has a dislocation of the front left leg, but we've just heard good from the vet. The dislocated bones have been put back in place, under general anaesthetic. Bandages will help stabilize the injury, and hopefully in not much more than a week, hedgehog will be able to go home. We will make sure all the rat traps are removed .


            8th October 2011

, It has been quite a busy week at Hessilhead, with a mix of patients. Two swans were rescued from roads. One had been hit by a van, but looks set to make a full recovery, the other had crash landed, no harm done except grazed feet. A cygnet got into a pickle when it landed on the lawns at Glen Park in Paisley. It could probably have taken off from there, but was chased by dogs and headed for the steep, gorse covered slope heading up to The Braes. By the time we arrived at the scene and cygnet, and the ranger who was keeping track of it, had disappeared from sight. Occasional shouts from Margeret led us up the slope, through bogs, under bushes, over a fence, and following a zigzag course round dense gorse. At last we found the cygnet, exhausted. It was an achievement for it to have travelled so far across rough terrain. Swans are not the best walkers even on flat land!

A scaup was an unusual visitor. These ducks are similar to tufted ducks, but more of a designer version. This drake was certainly handsome, with a grey filgree back, white sides and rich black velvety head. He had probably recently migrated from his arctic breeding grounds, and crash landed on a road in Stevenston. That wasn't too surprising. A flock, sometimes numbering around 100, spend much of the winter on the Sandilands pond and on the sea nearby. We released this drake on the Sandilands pool.

A few more hedgehogs were brought into care, but even more were released! One jumbo hedgehog weighed 1700 gm, only a little more than when he came in a couple of weeks ago. At the other end of the scale, juveniles are still being found, some weighing as little as 100gms.

A guillemot was brought down from Arrochar. It has an eye injury, but otherwise is doing well, and should be back on the sea soon.  A sparrowhawk is also making good progress, and a pipistrelle bat found in a Glasgow house, has been released. A Daubenton's bat is also in care. This is much bigger than a pip, dark grey on its back and dirty white underneath. It feeds well and is active, but bruised wings mean that it can't fly well enough for release yet. Hopefully it will be fit to go before hibernation time.

Yesterday morning it was sunny, and that in itself is worthy of note after a dismal week of heavy rain. Then 10 whooper swans arrived. They circled the quarry pond several times, honking and whooping,  and gliding down. Then they landed. They are among the first whooper swans to be seen in this area this autumn. We felt privileged that they chose to visit us here.

       30th  September  2011

I am ashamed to have to report this incident. Not that I have done anything wrong, and neither has anyone else at Hessilhead. But someone (another human being) left a snare set. The snare was frayed, so it was no longer a free running snare. When the snared animal struggled, the snare got tighter and tighter. The snared animal was an otter. It struggled so much that it broke the snare, and could escape from where it was trapped. But it couldn't escape from the wire around its body. The wire cut deep into the flesh, flies laid eggs and maggots 10mm long were found in the wound. The otter was found alive, but it died the following day at Hessilhead. The pm examination showed that it died from internal bleeding. The bleeding came from ulcers in the stomach, ulcers that were caused by stress. The stress was caused by the horrific wound that encircled the neck and shoulder. This otter suffered the most painful, tortured death. I cannot begin to understand how any person, anywhere, ever, could inflict such suffering.


        26th  September  2011

31 hedgehogs were delivered from the Uists today. This includes a mum with 5 babies, and a few autumn juveniles that may be in care for the winter. Others are hogs weighing over 600gm, so they will all be ready for release soon.


              23  September  2011

It is a bit late in the year for baby hedgehogs, but we have 2 mums with babies in the hospital. It doesn't look very comfortable having spiky siblings!


All the gannets are released now, and most of the fox cubs too. This evening we took out quite a few hedgehogs. The hand reared ones have done very well. The 8 released this evening were all over 800gm.


The otter cub is feeding very well, and has moved to outdoor accommodation. It can be upsetting for young animals when they move from a cage where they feel at home to somewhere much bigger and strange. To make the move less stressful for the cub, his favourite cosy fleece went too.


           19th  September  2011

More exhausted gannets have been found during the last few days, 3 of them in Kilmacolm! Guillemots are coming in too, and like of those of the last few years, they are seriously underweight.

Several tawny owl casualties have come in recently. One was found with fishing line tangled around its wing, and the bird was hanging from a tree. Although there was muscle damage, the bird has recovered in is ready for release. A rta owl came from Muirshiel Country Park. It was pretty unlucky to get hit by a car there. It will also be released soon. Tawny owl number 3 came from Castle Douglas. It was found on the road late at night, and brought to Hessilhead the following morning. At first there seemed to be no injuries, but a close examination revealed that both lower mandibles were fractured just behind the sheath. It was really disappointing to discover this. The bird was taken to our bird vet the following day, and we were delighted to have it back a few days later, with a good chance of it making a full recovery and returning to the wild.

A barn owl found hanging in a fence by its neck has also recovered well. It didn't look hopeful when it was found.


           15th  September  2011

The tail end of Katia has kept us busy over the last few days. It soon became apparent that gannets were having a tough time, with birds exhausted on beaches, and others blown inland and found in gardens. It was surprising that both adult and juvenile birds were in trouble. People familiar with dazzling white adult birds are sometimes puzzled by the dark grey, white flecked youngsters.


It was a surprise when a bird was delivered from Kilmarnock, to find that it was a manx shearwater. These birds never venture from the sea. It was released yesterday from Saltcoats pier.


4th  September  2011

Yesterday an otter cub was brought to us from Morven. The youngster was spotted crossing a road, very slowly, clearly unwell. The people who found the cub took it to the local wildlife man, Matt Wilson, and Matt gave us a call, asking if we could take it. He said the cub was cold and weak, but fortunately the people who found the cub were travelling to Glasgow. By the time the cub arrived at Hessilhead, it was warm and cosy, but dehydrated. It took lifeaid from a baby's bottle, and later in the evening ate a little fish. I was surprised, when I looked into its cage this morning, to see that the otter had eaten all the fish we'd left with it overnight. It has now become quite narky....that is what we like to see in our youngsters. We are quite sure that this cub had been without its mum for a few days. No doubt she met with an accident.


Jackie, one of the Glasgow Countryside rangers, helped us out today by rescuing a swan from Maxwell Park. The swan has been bullied for the past few days. It was kept off the water by a strong male swan, and we wondered why it hadn't flown away. When I examined the swan the reason was clear. This is a late moulting swan. Its flight feathers are only half grown, so for the time being it is flightless. It will stay at Hessilhead to complete the moult.

2nd  September  2011

There have been a lot of releases this week. An adult rta fox went back home to Glasgow, and 2 of our groups of hand reared cubs are now living free. More of the young gulls were released at Troon harbour, a hand reared leveret went off at high speed, a tawny owl was returned to Ayr, 4 bats were released where they had been found in trouble recently, and some hand reared bats were released from our bat tunnel. 5 of our hand reared roe fawns were moved to the big woodland enclosure where they will spend the winter. As usual, most of the fawns were reluctant to enter the carrying box, but once the box was opened in the enclosure, they left quietly, taking time to observe their new surroundings. Only when all the fawns were in the wood did they begin racing around, chasing each other, jumping , stopping, starting and suddenly changing direction. Already they have learnt where they food is placed twice a day, and I see them watching through the vegetation, ready to move in when I leave. Of course squirrels and rabbits have discovered this new source of food too! We kept one of the fawns back for a week or two. She had infected joints when she came here, and for a while she felt so poorly that she didn't eat well. I think that another couple of weeks on milk will help her, but I am delighted with the progress she has made since her treatment. I look forward to moving her to the wood too.


   28th August  2011

This morning a barn owl was brought to the centre. It had been found trapped in a fence, hanging by its head. It obviously has a very sore neck, but now it has been given pain killers and anti-inflammatory treatment. She is unlikely to feed herself tonight, so we've given her a small feed by hand. Apparently this owl was lucky to be found. She was trapped in area where few people walk.

Later today Kirsten collected a common seal pup from Ballantrae. It is a skinny little thing, with a badly injured hind flipper. It will need a lot of tlc before it is ready to return to the wild.   

   27th August 2011

Yesterday Andy and I returned from S Uist with 22 hedgehogs. About half of them are ready to go, though some of the females have pieces of velcro glued to their backs. these hold radio transmitters in place, but before the hogs can be released, this velcro must be removed. Some unco-operative hogs have to be sedated while this is done. it is quite a tricky job, as the glue is close to the animal's skin. The remainder are younger hogs that need to put on some weight before hibernation. We already have about 30 hand reared hogs in care, so it is busy in the hedgehog hospital now.

         20th  August  2011

There were lots of disappointments this week. We went to Culzean to collect a seal pup but it had died when we arrived. A very poorly old badger was brought in the next day; it was put to sleep. Two sparrowhawks came with badly broken wings, and today a peregrine, found on a road, had the worst wing fractures we've ever seen. A roe deer made no progress, and was also put to sleep. Of course, we shouldn't look at these as failures. Each of these casualties was treated with care and sympathy. Being able to end their suffering and fear with a single injection was a blessing that they may never had had, if people hadn't stopped to help them. And I believe that we helped them too; they were treated with dignity and respect.

Looking around the centre this evening, I realized it is far from doom and gloom. There are young mallards everywhere I look, waddling around, dabbling in puddles, gobbling up worms, enjoying the sun. They were all reared at Hessilhead this year. There are magpies and jackdaws, robins and blackbirds foraging on the lawn, and a hand reared great tit still flies into the hospital, helps itself to mealworms, and flies out again. We have hand reared bats in the bat tunnel, and tonight one of them was seen flying length of the tunnel, before swooping quickly into a bat box. It is great to see youngsters showing natural behaviour. We have a tawny owl ready for release. it was found trapped amongst timber as a lorry was being unloaded at a coal mine in East Ayrshire. We don't know where the owl came from, but tomorrow, as Andy and I head north for a trip to the Uists, we will release it close to conifer woodland. Another owl moved from the hospital today; it needs a bit of flying practice before being returned to Ayr. Two sparrowhawks, both window casualties, are making good progress, and two oystercatchers are devouring worms as fast as we can dig for them. A kestrel is now using the foot that was broken, and the little red squirrel is looking quite grown up. She will be returning to Dunoon in a couple of weeks. Wood pigeons and collared doves, hedgehogs, swallows and house martins, young gulls, swans and field voles are among other patients that are thriving. Thanks to the people who found them, who gave up some time to stop and help, often changing plans to bring these casualties to Hessilhead, these birds and animals will have a secong chance of enjoying life in the wild.


         4th  August  2011 

The first batch of young gulls was released today. It was quite blustery at Troon harbour, but once the gulls had found the nerve to fly, they were soon enjoying themselves and showing off. The release was one of the highlights of Gina's work experience at Hessilhead, and she enjoyed seeing the seals in the harbour too. 


                                           19th July   2011

It has been another week of releases. The highlight was releasing the eider ducks today. Remember, most of these ducks arrived here as eggs. We hatched them, reared them, enjoyed watching them grow, and today we took them down to the coast. The ducks waddled into the water,  bathed and dived and splashed, then came out to preen. For some reason, they then split into two groups. One group swam out of the little harbour at Portencross, and headed north along the coast. The other group seemed reluctant to follow, but with a little encouragement they crossed a narrow spit of land, took to the water and were last seen heading for Arran. Rearing the eiders was an interesting project, and we learnt lots about them. Most of all we loved their conversation. They communicated all the time with eider whoops and head bobs.


Rearing the eiders was expensive. We spent approximately £600 on seafood, £200 on medication to prevent a fungal infection of the lungs,  they guzzled their way through 10 bags of chick crumbs, not to mention the electricity to hatch them and keep small ducklings warm.

     14th July  2011

On Monday Andy and I took two badgers to be released near Dumfries. The one from north of Dumfries was rescued from a snare at the end of May. He was cut, but not too badly, and made a full recovery. We had to wait for the area to be checked for snares before we felt it safe to release him. The man who found this badger took us to the location, and as we carried the transport box across the field, there was no doubt that badger recognized home. He was scratching desperately to get out of the box, and when the door was opened he hurried away along a badger path. We watched him snuffling among the vegetation.                                     


Badger number 2 came from Colvend. He was lifted off the road late at night, and arrived at Hessilhead in the middle of our Open Day. Fortunately for badger, our vet was on hand. He was part of the musical entertainment. The badger was fairly battered and bruised, but made steady progress. Again we met the people who rescued him, and they were delighted to see him leap from the box, and race across the field to nearby scrub.

We stayed in the Colvend area for three lovely sunny days. It is well worth a visit.


            9th  July   2011

There has been quite a change at Hessilhead in the past 3 weeks. Many of the hand reared garden birds have been released, and most of the mallard ducklings are now living at the quarry pond. The greylag gosling roams free, often returning to the centre, and the Canada goslings are also at the quarry pond. Our eider ducklings have moved to a bigger enclosure with a larger pond. They love it, spending hours paddling water and splashing. They look smart with adult feathers now replacing their baby down. We hope to release most of them next week.

On Thursday we released a roe buck that came into care just before our Open Day. He has an old fracture to a leg, but his main problem was a huge abcess on his side. He had the abcess drained, 2 weeks of antibiotics and bunches of tasty leaves to eat every day. We returned him to Lochgoilhead, and he looked good when he went off at high speed. We still have a year old buck in care that will hopefully be released in a few days.

The young deer are all paired up now, and living in sheds with outdoor runs. One small fawn that came into care while Andy and I were enjoying a break on Coll, was  very difficult to feed. A German volunteer, Anna, was in charge of the deer during our absence, and I guess this youngster caused Anna many sleepless nights. She persevered, and now the fawn is thriving, though it will only drink from one soft teat. We take great care of that teat!


We have 1 young kestrel in care, and 2 rta buzzards were brought to Hessilhead during the week. They seem set to make full recoveries. This week we also admitted the first barn owl chick of the year. As you can see from the photo, it is much too young to be out of the nest. He appears to be made of cotton wool!


  The young gull season was a bit late this year, but we now have approx 40 in care. Most of these are from Greenock, Kilmarnock and Ayr. The chicks have fallen from nests on the roofs of buildings, and landed in busy places where it would be difficult for parents to feed them regularly. Gull chicks in gardens or on quite roads are usually ok to be left.

It was pleasure to release a leveret yesterday. We took her a couple of miles from Hessilhead, to an area of pasture adjoining newly planted woodland. So there was a variety of grass and other plants for food, and lots of shelter too. Of course she looked much smaller in the field than she did in a cage, but she hopped away confidently. It was certainly time for her to be free.


  Two hand reared weasels are now living in an outdoor enclosure. We enjoyed making them a habitat, with hollow logs. hidey holes and branches to climb. They enjoy exploring, but now, when we are nearby, they hide. That means they will soon be ready to go.

The hospital is busy with young hedgehogs. Some are weaned now, others are taking milk from a dish, but the youngest one, that arrived when just 1 day old, is quite demanding. At first he was being fed every 2 hours, with 2 feeds during the night. Now he has grown a bit and is eating well, and feeds can be 4 hours apart. That was quite a relief, till the baby bats came. One of them is no bigger than my thumb nail, the other a size larger. They feed well on milk from a paintbrush, but they do like to be topped up every 2 hours or so.                       


This morning we had a sad rescue, following a call from Lochwinnoch reporting a bird trapped in netting around a tv aerial. Fire & Rescue came to help, and they soon had the jackdaw cut free. Sadly both legs were badly broken, telling us just how much this bird had been struggling to get free. So please, if you do fell the need to stop birds perching on aerials or chimney pots, use something that will not injure the birds.


            16th June   2011

 Many thanks to everyone who came to our Open Day. We were lucky with the weather, and the day was a great success.


 A variety of casualties have come to Hessilhead this week, and lots of hand reared birds have been   released. Most young birds become independent quite soon after release, and they stay well away from people. Great tits are always more inquisitive. They join us at coffee time at the picnic table, constantly demanding food. Strangely, when we bring out food, one mouthful seems to satisfy each bird. So they are not really hungry. They beg through habit. This year, one particular great tit, seemed determined to get to know Andy better.


A swan was brought from Castle Semple Loch, a treble hook wedged in the corner of its beak. It didn't take long to remove the hook, under local anaesthetic, and give antibiotics. A much happier swan was returned to the loch.                                         


Today a swan was rescued from Irvine harbour. it had a hook in its neck.

Our eider ducklings are enjoying their new enclosure, that has been converted into a mini rocky beach.


and finally for today. I thought you might like to guess the identity of our latest baby.                     

 11th  June   2011

It has been another busy week at Hessilhead, with 12 or more new patients arriving every day. It was good that the weather improved. That allowed us to move birds from the hospital, and release two families of great tits. Today we've had lots of extra help, and we are all set for the Open Day tomorrow. We took time out to watch this cygnet, riding on mum's back and learning how to be a swan.


 4th  June   2011

We have had 123 new patients since I updated the diary a week ago. Given that many of the ones in care were young birds demanding feeds every half hour or so, and many of the new intake are the same, you can imagine that we have had a hectic week. The good thing about rearing young birds is that they grow up quickly. Some of the crows and magpies are in outdoor flights now. They are still hand fed, but less often, and they are beginning to pick up food for themselves. We have released ducklings, blackbirds and dunnocks, and robins and house sparrows are living in aviaries now, preparing for life in the wild. The goslings have moved to a grassy enclosure, and almost doubled their size.     

The blue tits and great tits in the hospital are looking good; the coal tits are not so keen to feed themselves, but we will order mini mealworms on Monday. They may find them easier to eat.

We have 3 baby roe deer in the hospital. Two of them came from Carluke, one picked up in the morning beside a road, the other later in the day, also beside a road. We assume they are siblings, and that something must have happened to their mum. The other deer came from Inverness. On Monday we rescued a year old deer from beside the A737 at Linwood. She was very badly concussed, and took only fluids for two days. Last night she was released, fully recovered We have also released hedgehogs and gannets.

Karen, our Greenock volunteer, likes dramatic rescues. Yesterday she commandeered a boat, and was out on the Clyde rescuing a family of swans. The male swan was tangled in fishing line, and as he dragged the line behind him, the cygnets became tangled too. When we got the call about this problem, one cygnet had already drowned. Karen was time to rescue the others.

Today one of our volunteers, Kirsty, had the pleasure of releasing a kingfisher. The bird came into care yesterday, after being found on the ground, stunned. She was very quiet yesterday, but we managed to feed her tiny strips of fish. Today she much more lively, and we let her fly in an aviary, to check that she could fly and co-ordinate well. Kirsty reported that the kingfisher was chased by a magpie soon after being released. The kingfisher landed on the canal, but managed to take off from the water and escape capture. I hope that by now she is back feeding her family.                         


21 of our eider eggs have hatched now, so with the 10 eider ducklings that we rescued during the storm, we have quite flock. The ducklings go outside on dry days, but return to their brooders at night. We are rearing them on chick crumbs, but every day they have a dish of prawns or mussels. That causes quite a lot of excitement!


                 29th  May  2011

Preparations are well underway for our Open Day on June 12th. We would welcome any donations of bric a brac, books, plants, bottles, children's prizes, and nearer the time, cakes, home made sweets and jams. Any help with preparations would also be appreciated. Give us a call or drop in and ask for a job! Please feel free to download our poster and put up in vets, libraries, community centres and pet shops.


                                                            28th  May  2011

This was the day we have been looking forward to since 2nd January. That was the day we rescued the fox from the snare, and you will remember that he was very badly injured. This evening he was released, fit and healthy. He was a good patient throughout his long period of recovery, and showed his delight at being free with a 'spring lamb leap' in the air, before running along a path to a woodland.                                


Bad news though for the badger that was admitted to the hospital today. He was found in a snare near Lockerbie. I don't suppose he is very impressed with all these new rules and regulations that are going to make the use of snares humane!!! The last Scottish Parliament let him down badly.

27th  May  2011

Even busier. More eider eggs have hatched, and we have the first gull chick in too. We have a baby weasel, some rabbits and the 1st 2 roe fawns of the year. Good news in the young bird department. Many of the starlings are self feeding now, also the great tits, robins and even some of the crows and rooks are beginning to play with the food in their dishes. We have an adult weasel ready for release, also a sparrowhawk. The oldest tawny chicks have moved to an aviary, and all the fox cubs are outside now, living in family sized groups. The weather is causing problems. Our lawn is like a wet sponge, and we can't put the ducklings out in their day runs. Hopefully there will  be a change soon.


26th May  2011

Well you should see the hospital now!. The storms of Monday and Tuesday have filled the hospital to capacity. We admitted 34 casualties on Monday, including lots of nestling crows and magpies blown out of trees in their nests. We also rescued 10 eider ducklings that were being blown along Saltcoats seafront. They were tumbling head over heels past the band stand. A couple of late tawny chicks got into trouble, and another clutch of mallard ducklings. Some tit boxes were blown down, so the hand feeding round in the hospital is an all day affair now, starting at 7.30am and often going on till 11pm. Our phone line was down for 3 days, but even on a hectic day at Hessilhead, there is always something to make us smile. We liked this crow that came with an internet connection built into its nest.


  22nd  May 2011

Andy and I came back from the Uists on Friday, just in time to miss seeing or being able to help with the pilot whales that seemed to be in danger of stranding. Today it seems they are out of danger. We brought back 9 hedgehogs, and the hospital is busier than when we left, with nests full of great tits and coal tits as well more starlings and ducklings.

A couple of weeks ago we were asked if we would incubate some eider eggs. This seems to be carrying wildlife rehab a tad too far, but the nests had to be moved in order to complete a new security fence at Faslane MOD base. We agreed to help, a license  was granted, we borrowed an incubator and the eggs were transported to Hessilhead in insulated boxes. To our delight 5 eggs have hatched so far, and more are beginning to chip. The fluffy ducklings have been moved to brooders, and we borrowed a couple of mallard ducklings that were already feeding well, to teach the little eiders how to feed. So all is going well so far, and we are hoping that the remaining 25 eggs will hatch.


8th  May 2011

The best thing that happened this week was  getting another badger cub as company for our Minnie Badger. The little male badger is smaller, and 2 or 3 weeks younger than Minnie, and was hand reared at Middlebank SSPCA centre. We put the new cub's carrying box in Minnie's run, and opened the door.  Minnie went to investigate straight away, no longer interested in me. She was so excited to see another badger that she started jumping up and down, and then leaping from side to side, inviting the new cub to play. It wasn't long before the two of them were tumbling and rolling over. It was such a delight to see them playing together. There is no more fadiness with food with now. Having some competition has made  cubs gobble up everything that is offered.

We had one more fox cub this week, lots more mallard ducklings and a single oystercatcher chick that fell off a roof. We had a young pine marten, found at Mugdock Country Park. It was very weak, starving, dehydrated, and probably blind. It survived for just over 24 hours.

Two young barn owls were moved to a release site at Symington in S Lanarkshire. They have spacious accommodation in the loft of an old barn, and we put a nest box on the rafters, hoping they will stay to breed.

The 7 young roe deer that we over-wintered were released this week. I am sure they are enjoying the lush spring vegetation. We have caught glimpses of them, but they have disappeared fast among shrubs and bushes. Encouraging natural behaviour.

 2nd  May  2011

The holiday weekend hasn't been as busy as we'd have expected with such good weather. Saturday brought the first gosling of the year, a greylag found on its own in Kilmacolm. This little fellow was very restless till a single mallard duckling arrived later in the day. On Sunday 6 more day old mallards were brought in for rearing. The gosling seems content with his alternative family, and the mallards seem to think he might be mum!

Blackbirds are far outnumbering any other young birds. Their breeding season must have got off to an early start. We have a nestling magpie, and several dunnocks.                        


Two more pigeon chicks were admitted after being removed from their nest on top of a water tank in a loft!

On Saturday a nestling tawny owl was found beneath a tree at Loudonhill. Although the people who found the owl could see the nest it was much too high to reach. We wondered if the owlet should come into care. It sounded small, and the people said that when they found the chick, it was lying down. That made it sound young, too young to be out of the nest. The decision was right. This young owl is barely 3 weeks old, and had no chance of surviving on the ground.    

Another fox cub came into care on Saturday. It had been found on the road, presumably having been clipped by a car. It has head injuries, and we are worried about its vision. The next pic shows last week's fox cub that has a fractured palate. This is the 'before' pic, and in a week or two I hope  you will see the 'look at me know' photo. The cub is now lapping sloppy food and shredding the newspapers in its cage.


We are also rearing 3 field voles, that were found after their mother was killed by a dog.

This, sadly, is the season when we take lots of calls reporting deer injured in road traffic accidents. We respond to as many calls as possible, but cannot always go out in the middle of the night, or travel for more than an hour to reach a deer. We need some sleep so we can work following day.

                                                           29th  April  2011

There has been a variety of new arrivals in the past few days. We rescued a duck and 12 ducklings from a cemetery in Kilmarnock. The ducklings couldn't get over a wall, and then there would have been a busy road to cross. We will keep the family here for 2 or 3 weeks. By that time the ducklings will have a better chance of surviving.

A swan was rescued from Houstonhead Dam in Bridge of Weir. It is always the same problem with swans there...fishing tackle. This swan had swallowed a great length of line, but a loop of it had got caught under the bird's chin. This stopped it from swallowing the line completely, and also from swallowing any food. There was also a hook in the swan's foot. We removed the line and the hook, gave antibiotics, and today the swan was returned to the loch.

An injured fox cub was found in the car park of a Glasgow Police Office. The cub was very poorly, with a broken palate, infected eyes, and suffering from dehydration. After 30 hours in care it is much stronger, and enjoys its feeds of liquid food, given with a syringe. It has a long way to go to make a full recovery, but now it is getting the best treatment.

7 Uist hedgehogs were delivered this week. All were heavy hedgehogs, impatient to be back in the wild. 5 have been released and the other 2 will be going out this weekend.  We  released an otter and a buzzard this week, and the first of this year's blackbirds are ready to go.                                                   

     26th  April  2011

We have 11 fox cubs in care now. Some of them have been paired up and moved outside, pics below. The 2 smallest cubs are together too. They snuggled up as soon as they were introduced. It must seem much more normal to have company.


Minnie Badger is living outside now, and looking quite grown up.   


The good weather has meant that cats are out and about, so the hospital is filling up with fledglings. We have several blackbird chicks in care, two of them still naked. There are two dunnocks,  an adult blue tit and more nestling wood pigeons.

The first young tawny of the year arrived today. We expected the first owl to be a nestling, but this is a fledgling that should have been flying. It has an injured wing, that should heal quite quickly. It is underweight, but has eaten lots of food today.        


  17th  April  2011

 Yesterday was unusually quiet for a Saturday, with only one patient admitted, a pigeon. Today was quite the opposite, with patients arriving throughout the day. The first call came before 8 this morning, asking for help to rescue an eagle owl, that was trapped on the roof of a house in Kilmacolm. The eagle owl was wearing jesses, and these leather straps had become tangled around the TV aerial. Of course this was not a wild bird; we knew that it must be an escaped pet, but nevertheless it needed help, quickly. Fire and Rescue agreed to attend, and when Andy left the house I assumed he'd be on the ground, with the firemen on the roof. When Andy returned with the eagle owl, he was pleased with himself, telling us that he'd been up to the chimney to get the bird. I didn't ask for any more details!  We were able to track down the owner of the bird, that had apparently been on the run for 6 weeks. It was collected late this afternoon.


Late this morning a red squirrel was brought from Arran. She is 5-6 weeks old, her eyes are open but she looks very babyish. She has been feeding well from a bottle, and will probably start nibbling nuts and fruit soon.    

A jackdaw was brought in from Kilwinning, but after laying an egg it seemed fine. We think the bird  must have been egg bound. It had a rest, a drink and some food, and was then released. Hopefully it is now back at the nest with its mate.

Other patients of the day included a young blackbird, a collared dove, 2 pigeons, and 2 grey squirrels. We released a field vole that was in care for a few days.     

The youngest fox cub is opening her eyes today         and we have a tree nesting mallard at the centre     

15th April  2011

Quite a lot has happened in the last two days. On Wednesday evening there was a call to rescue a swan from Irvine. It had flown into a wall at the Rivergate centre, which spans the river. The swan isn't badly injured, has now recovered from shock and concussion, and should be released in the next few days. A young grey squirrel was delivered the same evening. It has its eyes open, and started to eat bread and milk today. Like most young squirrels, its table manners are far from perfect, and it sucks the milk up noisily, and almost does hand stands in the bowl. Then one of our supporters delivered a pigeon that had been left injured when a sparrowhawk was disturbed. It had a nasty tear in its neck that needed stitching.


Yesterday Andy and I went to Symington, S Lanarkshire, to check out a new barn owl release site. It is excellent. A fox was brought in from the SSPCA. This cub is much bigger than any we have in care. It has settled well in an outdoor enclosure. Late in the evening we released the badger that had been injured on the road near Irvine a few weeks ago. It was lovely to see it trot away down the field, following a familiar badger track.

More hedgehogs have been released in the past 2 days. Still 12 to go. Today the first clutch of ducklings came into care. They were found at the Roads Depot in Greenock. We get ducklings from this yard every year. The female mallard finds a secluded place to nest, but can't find a way out for the ducklings when they hatch. The 12 fluffy brown and yellow day old youngsters are snuggled under a heat lamp, and have already started eating.  Two swans and a field vole were also rescued in Greenock today.              


                                                             13th April 2011

In the hospital it is beginning to look more like spring. Fox cub no 2 came 6 days ago. Less than a week old then, she was the shape of a sausage and nearly all black. She took to the bottle straight away, and has grown quite a lot. Her eyes are not open yet, but she is mobile, crawling around her heated cage.


Fox cub no 3 came from Sunderland on Sunday. She was found alone and taken to a cat rescue centre at South Shields. The lady there has a lot of experience rearing kittens, and has done a good job of rearing the cub. Now the cub needs company, and soon she will be introduced to our cub No 1.


Fox cub No 4 was found in Clydebank late on Tuesday evening. She was brought here on Wednesday morning, and we suspected right away that there was something seriously wrong. We soon discovered that this cub couldn't see, and also had a brain problem. This morning she had a fit, and we know from experience that any cub that has one fit goes on to have more, and at more frequent intervals. The decision to put her to  sleep wasn't easy.

Minnie Badger has being growing a lot. She had an upset tummy for a few days, but that didn't stop her gaining weight. She enjoys a romp around the hospital in the evenings, playing with a variety of toys, but preferring to follow her 'mum'. She eats some grown up foods now, mainly mince and day old chicks, but the mince she will only eat from my hand. She hasn't a clue about eating from a dish. We hope it won't be long till she is eating all that is offered. Then she will be able to move from the hospital to more spacious accommodation.


We are bottle feeding a baby rabbit and a leveret. Both doing well so far. We also have 3 older rabbits. All of these were cat victims. They are eating grass and rabbit food.


We have the first two casualties of tree felling for the year. The 2 young wood pigeons are being reared on a parrot rearing food.   They are doing well, but would have been better with their parents. Please remember, it is too late now to cut back dense bushes or fell trees. Many species of birds already have young in their nests.           


                                                             5th  April 2011

The first of this year's fox cubs came today. The little dog fox was found at Glasgow Green, wandering alone on a wet morning, whimpering. It was taken into care by George Parsonage, (Glasgow Humane Society) who made the cub comfortable in a heated box, and called Hessilhead for help. The cub has his eyes open, so is probably just over 2 weeks old. He has a long, dark ,shaggy coat, isn't thin, but seems to be a bit on the small side. I gave him 2 feeds of lifeaid this afternoon and evening, and later I offered him a small helping of tinned cat food. He may be small, but he knew what to do with that! Now he is settled in his heated cage, sound asleep.


                                                          31st  March 2011

Ok, so it was me that mentioned orphan birds. Now the first 2 blackbird chicks are in care, and what a job we had to get one of them out from behind a cooker in a kitchen in Kilmarnock. The chicks hatched in a small garden, occupied by a small dog, and seem to have had an eventful couple of days. Finally one of the chicks was caught by the dog, and retrieved by the dog's owner. The other chick flew in through the open back door, through the dining room, and into a cupboard. That gave access to the back of the dishwasher, and then the cooker. With the aid of a torch and feather duster, with Andy folded into a unlikely position in the cupboard, and the householder lying on his back across the kitchen, with an arm under the cooker, blocking access to the back of more cupboards, the chick was brought out to safety. The people in the house were very concerned about this bird, and would have removed any of the fittings to save its life. So now we are into the season of regular half hour feeds. I am also feeding a young rabbit, that was caught by a dog and had badly torn skin. The skin has been stitched, and the rabbit is taking milk from a bottle. Not out of the woods yet though.

29th March 2011

Well, you should see Minnie Badger now. When we came back from a few days away last week, I couldn't believe how much the cub had grown. Foster mum Toni had done a good job. The cub's coat was longer, her ears were tufty, and she had black hair on her tummy. Today we moved the cub into a large hospital cage. There is a cardboard sleeping box, lined with fleece bedding, and with a doorway cut in the side. It took Minnie no time at all to find the doorway, and after every feed or playtime, she totters back into the box to sleep. I'm always amazed at the competence of baby wildlife!

Minnie weighs more than 1300gm now. Her eyes are wide open, she is much more active, and is beginning to eat solid food. Before every bottle feed I give her a small nugget of mince. She really likes this, though she is not yet able to eat from a bowl. She is too wobbly on her legs to keep still.



We had expected to have more babies in care by now, but so far we haven't had calls about fox cubs or orphan birds. We have had a variety of patients, including a jackdaw with an eye infection, a weak buzzard that was found tangled on a fence, and a magpie that must have been involved in collision. The magpie will be released in a couple of days.

Yesterday we collected an injured badger from Forth in S Lanarkshire. We got the call late the night before, when we were reluctant to travel for more than an hour to collect the patient. The badger was in an almost completely enclosed yard behind a house. Andy gave the householders directions for guiding  the badger into a wheelie bin (what, a wheelie bin!. Well wheelie bins happen to make safe, secure containers for injured badgers. If bedding is added, the badger will be comfortable there for a few hours). The badger has territorial bites around its rump, but it isn't an old badger, which is usually the case with these injuries. It is being treated with antibiotics, and we'll continue to assess its progress and chances of rehabilitation.


20th March 2011

I know that many of you are keen to have a progress report on the little badger, because some of you have been asking. Here are some more photos. You can see that she has grown a lot, and her coat is just like that of an older badger. She has more than doubled her weight since she came here.




Feeding badger has still taken up much of my time, and this afternoon another little orphan arrived. The new arrival is a leveret, less than a week old, and found sheltering beneath a plank of wood close to stables. This evening I gave her a drink of rehydration fluid. She took some, without much enthusiasm. Hopefully she will be more interested in milk in the morning.


14th March 2011

I thought you’d like to see some photos of the little badger cub. After 2 days of reluctant feeding, she started to take the bottle well, and has steadily gained weight. She has grown more hair, and over this weekend her eyes opened. She looks an exact replica of an adult badger, hence her name, Mini-badger. She is quite active now, but I think she will be getting bottle feeds for a while yet. She waddles around her cage and tunnels beneath the bedding, but is very unco-ordinated. She weighed 455gm when she came here. Two days ago she weighed 648gm.


                         11th  March 2011                                 

Last weekend we rescued a pair of swans from Old Kilpatrick. Both were fairly heavily oiled, though there was no sign of oil pollution where they were found. We are grateful to staff at the SSPCA Wildlife Centre in Fife for cleaning these swans. They have much better facilities there for washing birds than we have at Hessilhead. Today the swans came back gleaming, ready for release.

We also collected the peregrine from the vet. The young bird was found injured a couple of weeks ago. He had a wing injury, and his elbow kept dislocating. This is usually a difficult injury to fix, but Alastair has used external fixators to keep the joint intact. The bird has to go back in 2 weeks. There is no guarantee that the bird will make a full recovery, but at least it is in with a chance.



3rd March 2011

Late on Sunday evening we had a call about an injured badger. It had been hit by a car, and presumably left for dead on the road between Irvine and Gailes. Another motorist stopped, pulled the badger off the road, and called his sister, asking her to get help. The sister and mother went to the scene, and covered the badger with a blanket. They said it looked very badly injured, and we set off straight away. When we arrived the blanket was still at the roadside. The badger had done a runner, down a gully, under a hedge, and was somewhere in an acre of waste ground that was mostly hawthorn, bramble and other impenetrable vegetation. The lady was searching with the torch of a mobile phone, and we weren’t much better equipped, having only Andy’s head torch. At last Andy spotted the badger, but he couldn’t get to it quickly, and it disappeared again. Strangely, just a few minutes later, it crawled right up to him. Getting the carrying box through the hedge was the next problem, but after some struggling, torn trousers and scratched hands, the badger was safely in the box, and the box was manoeuvred through the hedge.

The badger had been hit on the head. There was a wound and he was unconscious when we brought him back to the centre. He has had a few broken teeth removed, and is much more alert now. He has been feeding himself for the past 2 nights. Prognosis hopeful.

The following evening we collected the youngest badger cub we have ever had at Hessilhead. She is about two weeks old, grey where adult badgers are black, except for the insides her ears that are inky black. She has the cutest little nose that looks like a plastic afterthought. The cub was dropped at her owner's feet by a terrier, the family pet that lives on the farm. We don’t know if the badger cub was out of the sett, or whether the terrier ventured down the hole, a thing it had never done before. We will never know.

The cub is living in a cage with overhead heat. For 2 days she took just small milk feeds, but today she has found her appetite, and is feeding with more enthusiasm. She is quite noisy and quite active, though it will be 2 to 3 weeks before she opens her eyes. I didn’t expect to be doing early morning and late night feeds so early in the year! I never thought we’d we have a badger cub so small.

15th February 2011

A buzzard was released at Montgreenan today. As soon as we opened the box the bird began calling, and its mate replied from nearby trees. They circled together over their territory.

Another buzzard that came in at the weekend has been on fluids and small hand feeds for 3 days. Today it began to feed itself and is looking much stronger. A male sparrowhawk was brought in this evening. It has a long skin tear down one side; it could have been done on barbed wire. This will be a difficult wound to stitch, and may restrict leg movement. The bird will go to the vet tomorrow.

13th February 2011

We had an early start on Saturday morning when someone called to say he’d found an injured badger on the road and he had already put it into the boot of his car! Andy met the rescuer at a Burger King car park. By this time the concussed badger was coming round, and I understand it took a little exercise in the (fortunately deserted) car park before being safely shut in a carrying box! Although one leg is badly cut, an x-ray showed no broken bones. The skin tear was stapled, and now badger seems to be feeling better. He is eating everything we give him.

Yesterday we went to the pond at Ardeer after several calls reported swans fighting. We knew that the male of the resident pair had died 3 weeks ago, leaving a female and 9 well grown cygnets. The callers told us that a new pair of swans had arrived, and they were constantly chasing the female. When we arrived the situation was even worse. Two pairs of swans were fighting over the territory, and between fighting with each other, both pairs attacked the female and her cygnets. We caught the bereaved female first, then watched to see what happened. One pair of swans was obviously stronger than the other pair. The weaker pair kept leaving the water. So we got hold of them too, and also a cygnet that was having a hard time. All will be released at Irvine harbour. No doubt the new resident pair of swans will chase away all the cygnets. They would have been chased by their parents soon, its all part of cygnet growing up. Unless we hear that any are in real danger, we’ll leave them to fly away on their own.

12th February 2011

This week we had a call out for another snared fox. David and Colin went to the location, and found one fox snared, very much alive, and obviously terrified. It was released from the snare and set free. Sadly they found another fox that must have suffered an appalling death. It was snared around its neck, had jumped the fence to which the snare was attached, and strangled. Hopefully it didn’t suffer for too long. This incident is now being investigated by the wildlife crime police.

I know the pics are awful, but people need to see this suffering and then take action. If you haven’t already written to your MSPs regarding snaring, please do so now. Go to www.Onekind.org and you can e-mail a letter, with your own comments added, with just a few clicks. It couldn’t be easier.

Good news for a fulmar that had been in care for a few weeks. Today it was released from Largs, looking fit and healthy. A buzzard is ready for release this weekend too.

30th January 2011

Swans, swans and more swans. We have rescued swans every day since the last update. They have come in with many different problems, including lead poisoning, crash landings, back and leg injuries, general debility and weakness. This morning David waded out to the island in Alexandra Park Pond, to rescue a swan that was tangled in fishing line, and firmly attached to a bush. The swan would not have freed itself, but fortunately we heard about it before any damage was done. The underweight, lethargic swans are more of a worry, and some have not responded to treatment. It is possible that they are now suffering from the prolonged period of low temperatures, and the effects of stress resulting from large numbers of swans being confined to small areas of open water. We have had many reports of dead swans in Ayrshire, Glasgow and Renfrewshire.

Owls. A tawny owl found on a road one morning was not a road traffic victim, as you would expect, was suffering from a fungal mouth infection. This was advanced, the owl was unable to eat, and had lost lots of weight. We were able to get a tube down the owl’s crop, and so give medication and liquid food. The difference in the owl, 10 days after its rescue, is remarkable. Just a bit of infection remains, so treatment is continuing. The owl is now able to feed itself, and is quite lively. We are hopeful of a full recovery.

2 tawny owls were released recently, one near Muirkirk, the other one near Kilbirnie. Both had recovered from shoulder injuries.

2 barn owls are doing well. One is now in outdoor accommodation, the other has just started feeding itself, having taken a long time to recover from concussion. Barn owls have had a bad time this winter, with many dying of starvation. Hopefully these 2 owls will return to the wild and breed successfully. I was pleased to see a barn owl sunning itself on cliffs at the quarry last week. Good to know that our local owls survived the winter.

Buzzards. We have had mixed success with buzzards. One bird found on the road near Balfron had several fractures of both wings. There was no hope of it ever flying again. Another buzzard, found closer to home, is making good progress.

Bats. It has been an unusually busy winter for bats. Most of these casualties have been found inside buildings. This may be because lower temperatures have encouraged the bats to move further into buildings, and some have found themselves in living space. With warmer weather predicted this week, some of the bats should be released.

Snared fox. Still making good progress. Wound healing well. The fox is becoming a bit restless now, shreds his bedding, tearing his papers.

On the day we rescued the fox, the fox bit Andy. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but infection set in, and an X-ray revealed that the finger is broken. So Andy spent 2 days in hospital last week, having the bone scraped and getting intravenous antibiotics. He is on the mend now, but everyone can see he has a broken finger. The splint is enormous!

Hopefully Andy and I will heading to England later this week, for a rehabbers meeting at Secret World in Somerset. It is always good to meet with other people running wildlife rescue centres. There is always something new to learn, new ideas to try.

17th January 2011

The past 10 days have been busy at Hessilhead, with a variety of patients coming into care.

4 deer were rescued.

Deer 1 had fallen into a narrow gap between fences in a built up part of central Glasgow. It was concussed and bit bruised, but made a speedy recovery and has been released closer to Hessilhead.

Deer 2 A rta victim from Paisley had several leg fractures, and, sadly was not viable.

Deer 3 On Monday David and Charlotte rescued a deer from a school playground in Lenzie. This deer had probably been a rta too. It is still in care.

Deer 4 Andy and I rescued a deer that has been hanging around a built of area of Kilmarnock. We had received calls that the deer was limping earlier in the week, but it was mobile, and couldn’t be caught. On Saturday it went between 2 fences, and someone trapped it there till we arrived. This deer has a nasty gash on its front leg, and is now receiving treatment.

Tawny Owls Two tawny owls were probably looking for a nest site when they fell down a chimney in Stewarton and landed in a ground floor bedroom. They were rescued, rehydrated and have now been released.

David rescued a pipistrelle bat that was joining in the dancing class at Dalry Community Centre. The bat will be released when the weather is warmer.

A pied wagtail looked in bad way after hitting a window at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. I was surprised to see it standing the following morning, and later that day it was perching and eating. Now it is free.

Swans have been getting into more trouble, with several road rescues. A badly injured swan came from Richmond Park. It has a deep wound on its face, and was bleeding badly. This could be a dog bite, or a shot wound. The swan looks much better today. It has been swimming and preening, so looks much cleaner, and has been eating well.

Parliament On Thursday Andy and I attended a snaring briefing for MSPs at the Scottish Parliament. The 2 presentations should have convinced everyone there that snaring is downright cruel and causes unacceptable levels of suffering. As a result of the meeting a debate is to be held in Parliament next month, when campaigners for and against snares will be able to put their case to MSPs. Please keep sending letters to MSPs. Those at the meeting said that it really makes a difference. Letters to your MSPs can be sent via Onekind's website www.onekind.org.

Good news so far on the fox that we rescued from a snare on 2nd January. He visits the vet regularly. His wound has been cleaned and remains free of infection. The healing process is now underway, and daily treatment with manuka honey seems to be helping.

A barn owl was found in poor condition near Biggar, on Friday. This is a juvenile owl that probably had trouble finding enough food during the prolonged frosty weather. Barn owls all over Britain suffered badly.

Also on Friday, we were called into Glasgow to help a fox that was trapped in a basement yard. When we arrived at the address the fox was nowhere to be seen, but there were signs of digging at two ventilation shafts beneath the building. We have seen foxes using these shafts many times, and lots of foxes rear cubs under tenement buildings. The problem with the site we visited on Friday is that we don’t know if the fox has another way out from under the building. There was no way out at the back of the house, but it is quite likely that the fox can move some distance under the basements, and emerge from under a house along the street. Other basement yards had flights of steps up to the pavement, so a fox would not be trapped in these. We will monitor the situation.

Wellington and Gale, the two grey seal pups were released on Friday.

The waxwing was released on Sunday.

A fulmar is an unusual bird to find in your garden, though the garden was only a couple of miles from the coast. The fulmar isn’t feeding itself yet, and is being hand fed whitebait. It is underweight and has a sore wing, but we think it will make a good recovery.

5th January 2011

So far there is good news about the snared fox that we rescued on 2nd January. He had his second visit to the vet today. The wound has been cleaned and dead tissue removed, and the vet thinks there is a good chance of him making a full recovery. There will be several more trips to the vet and a fairly long recuperation, but he is eating well, taking his pain killers and seems to be coping with life in a fairly small cage to prevent him moving around too much. If anyone reading this hasn't seen the pics of him, please look at the 2nd January entry below. Then visit www.onekind.org.

Yesterday we collected the first orphan of the year. The little otter cub was found sheltering in the porch of a house in Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire. We are sure that something must have happened to her mother, though the cub is in good shape. She is eating well, is a wee bit aggressive, and of course is quite adorable. She will be staying in the hospital for a while, but likes to hide in a big cardboard box filled with cosy bedding. I don't think there is any chance of her becoming tame; she seems quite independent.

2nd January 2011

Today we were called out to rescue a fox from a snare. It was awful. The photos are shocking and upsetting, but look at them. Imagine the pain and the fear that the fox suffered, struggling to free itself. With every move the snare got tighter, the wire dug deeper. Then go to www.onekind.org and see how you can help the campaign to ban snares.

While Andy and I were out rescuing the fox, Paul rescued 2 swans in Irvine. Susan took a buzzard to release on her way home, I released a mallard on the quarry pond, and we finished the day releasing swans at Irvine Harbour.

1st January 2011

It was a good start to the year. This evening we took a young roe buck back to Woodford Loch woodland, near Coatbridge. The deer was hit by a car a few days ago, treated by a vet that night, and Andy brought it to Hessilhead the next day. Suffering only from cuts and bruises, the deer soon recovered. This morning it was bouncing around its shed. The deer was sedated for travelling, and given an antidote before release. In the pic you can see Andy steadying the deer, before it wandered off into the woods.

5 patients were admitted today, a buzzard, a rabbit and 3 pigeons. We responded to 2 calls concerning swans (though one turned into a white poly bag!), and gave advice about an injured fox with a damaged leg. We will attempt to trap the fox in a few days, when it has become accustomed to feeding in a garden every night.

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