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


27th  December  2012

I thought you would like to see Pudding, the Christmas baby. The grey seal pup was found on the beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland, on Boxing Day morning. He weighs just over 11kg, so is very much underweight. He has lots of infected dog bites, so is receiving intensive antibiotic  treatment. One deep gash required stitching. We have been giving him rehydration fluids today. He has another 200ml to get this evening, and we will offer him a sprat or two as well.


24th  December  2012



23rd  December  2012

A busy day today, with a kestrel, a barn owl and a buzzard delivered. All looking hopeful. Sadly one of our hedgehogs that had been in a garden release scheme, was found to be badly injured when its sleeping box had to be moved due to flooding. It had lost a leg, and the other leg was broken. So even when we try to do our best and give patients a soft release, they can still get into trouble. Luckily it was found.

We have another Glasgow swan in care. This cygnet, from Hogganfield Loch, had fishing line wound tightly round its lower neck, preventing the bird from swallowing food. There was a mass of dried food above the ligature, as moisture had been able to trickle through. Even after we cut away the line, the lump of food remained. We massaged it, gave liquid paraffin by crop tube, massaged again and waited. Eventually the cygnet regurgitated lots of vegetation and drank a lot. Today it has started eating again, but has lost a lot of weight and will be in care for a while.

18th  December  2012

Two more autumn juvenile hedgehogs delivered today. One of them ,as you can see, is a healthy, though underweight youngster. The other one, even smaller, has a skin infection on its face, that needs treatment. This year looks like breaking previous records for overwintered hedgehogs.


 5 swans were released today, and we were pleased to get the Maxwell Park cygnet back from the vet's yesterday. He had been an inpatient for a nearly two weeks, having lots of tests and treatment. He is certainly looking better now. We left another cygnet with the vet, another puzzling case from Victoria Park in Glasgow. We released a male sparrowhawk today. It was an in and out case. It had collided with a conservatory yesterday, was taken to a vet, transferred to Hessilhead, made a quick recovery and released where found this afternoon.


       We released a  coot at the weekend.  It came in unable to stand, after being rescued from ice at Coves Reservoir in Gourock. It was good to see it striding out when we opened its box.


2 buzzards were brought in on Saturday. One was very weak and thin, but has responded to fluid therapy, and is now self feeding. The other was a heavy bird, with tatty tail feathers and smelling of slurry. It is doing well in an aviary.

14th  December  2012

We were very disappointed when the new otter died suddenly yesterday. He had been eating well, moving around his cage and appearing to pay attention to what was happening in the hospital. He was still quiet and calm, but we put that down to the concussion. In fact he had crushing injuries and a punctured lung.


If you are still looking for a special Christmas present for an animal lover or wildlife enthusiast, why not sponsor one of our patients. Cost 25, photo and report sent. More details from info@hessilhead.org.uk

10th December  2012

Our phone wasn't working this weekend, which made for a quite few days. Our mobiles don't work at the centre either, so communications have been difficult. Apologies if you have been trying to contact us.

This evening an RTA otter was brought to the hospital. It was found on the road by Michael, a Clyde Muirshiel Countryside Ranger. Michael thought the otter was dead, and stopped to pick up the carcase. The body twitched, so he gently laid it in the back of the landrover and set off for Hessilhead. When Michael arrived here the otter was running around the vehicle. It had been climbing onto his shoulders while he was driving!

The otter is safely in a hospital cage now. He goes through periods of activity when he stands on his hind legs and then walks around. So it appears that no bones are broken. There are grazes under the chin and his claws have been bleeding. After a few minutes of activity the otter sleeps, typical signs of concussion.

The otter will be assessed again tomorrow.


 A young female sparrowhawk was released on Friday, and a  mute swan returned to Hogganfield Loch on Sunday.


4th  December  2012

Magpies have been getting into trouble this week. Most have been collision cases, one has an eye infection. A jackdaw, hit by a car, made a quick recovery and has now been released. Two swans were rescued from ice on Hogganfield Loch. One of them  had been attacked by a dog or fox, and sadly died. the other is ready for release. A young swan was rescued yesterday from Maxwell Park in Glasgow. We are told that it hasn't been eating for several days, but it is also showing signs of trauma, perhaps a crash landing. It has been admitted to the vet's for tests and treatment. A juvenile great black backed gull was brought from Fife. It has a wing injury, now strapped up, and is eating whole herring. A waxwing was released today, also a blackbird. More hedgehogs in care...74 in total!

We have taken in 6 lop-eared rabbits that were abandoned in Irvine. All lovely, homes needed please.

1st  December  2012

David and George took two of our young otters to a release site yesterday. The release site is on the Sound of Mull, not too far from where one of the cubs was found last autumn. The orphaned cub was taken to Matt, who gave first aid before sending the cub to Hessilhead. Matt found and prepared the release site, which is a big help to us, but David and George had to help carry the otters, in their sleeping box, over more than half a kilometre of rough and boggy ground! Matt will have trail cameras set up to monitor the otters after they are released. We are looking forward to Matt's news.


The first whooper swan of the winter was brought to Hessilhead yesterday. It was found on the road near Troon, unco-ordinated, but still with the bad attitude typical of whooper swans.

28th  November  2012

Cumbrae the seal pup had his first swim today. He seemed a bit puzzled at first, and wasn't sure what to do with his flippers. He soon learnt to enjoy the water though, and was splashing, diving and hurtling from one end of the pool to the other.


25th November  2012

With so many waxwings being reported in the area just now, it isn't surprising that one got into trouble and came to Hessilhead. It has clearly been involved in a collision, and has now recovered from the mild symptoms of concussion that it showed on arrival. It has been left with a shoulder injury, so it is difficult to say how long this will take to heal. Meanwhile the waxwing has shunned the cotoneaster berries on offer, but it eats an apple a day.     


Other new arrivals include yet more hedgehogs. Two were very small, weighing only 210 and 243 gm, and another was a monster, weighing 1150gm. We hope that this one will soon be back in the garden where it was found. One of the new hedgehogs had a nasty injury to the top of its head, with a deep gash from behind one ear to the other. Stitching hedgehog skin is difficult, but we managed to get in enough stitches to hold the wound closed, and it seems to be healing well.


A sparrowhawk has settled in remarkable quickly, and is self feeding. It seems to be badly bruised from collision.

19th  November  2012

Yesterday the last batch of Uist hedgehogs for this year arrived at Hessilhead. There are 11 of them, which puts our hedgehog population at over 60. Some of these hedgehogs are ready for release, but they will require a special release site. As the weather has been so wet, and may get colder, these hogs will need a soft release. This means they must go into a hutch and run, or a shed or other outbuilding, where they will have a cosy nest and food provided every evening. If we get a good spell of weather it may be possible to allow these hogs to go free, and hopefully they will return to the nest if they cannot find enough dry material to make a new one. If the weather closes in, the hogs would have to be kept till spring. It is likely that they would hibernate for some of this time, but food must be available should they waken. If you could offer a release site that meets these requirements please get in touch. It would be better for the hedgehogs to be on their way to freedom, and we would appreciate not having so many hedgehogs to clean out every day!

16th November  2012

Many thanks to everyone who came and supported our Quiz Night. It was a great success, lots of fun and raised 385.

        14th  November  2012

This is just a reminder to say that it isn't too late to enter a team in our quiz night on Friday. call or email the centre to register your team, or just turn up at the Outdoor Bowling Club, Kilmenny Terrace, Ardrossan, at 7.30. Or just come along to watch the fun. 3 per person. Bar, raffle and cakes.

13th  November  2012

The 2nd seal of the season arrived last night. He was found on the beach near Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. He was watched all day, to make sure that he really needed to be taken into care, but he made no effort to return to the sea. When the seal arrived at Hessilhead, courtesy of British Divers who relayed him here, we had no doubts at all that he needed care. His eyes were dry and crusty, suggesting he hadn't been fed for days and was dehydrated. He has numerous infected bites and wounds in his face, chin, flippers and body. At 15.4 kg he is heavier than Cumbrae, but still seriously underweight. He is receiving the full range of treatment. We are just about to make up his last drink of rehydration fluids for the day. Tomorrow he will be given some fish.


11th November  2012

Today we released a kestrel that was found at Whitelees Windfarm about 4 weeks ago. The bird was very weak and underweight, and had an old wing fracture. Fortunately the fracture had set well, but obviously the bird hadn't been able to hunt with this injury. The bird was kept on heat, given fluids, then liquid food, and later offered fresh meat. She gained strength and put on weight, and was moved to an indoor flight. The next step was to move the kestrel to a large aviary where she could build up her flight muscles. I wasn't hopeful of her making a full recovery when I first saw her in this flight. Her wings didn't seem to match; she struggled to gain any height. But as we have often proved before, time makes all the difference. For the past week the kestrel has been flying well, zooming from one end of the flight to the other. When we released her today she took a few minutes to leave the box, then she headed for the  conifer wood half a mile away. The kestrel landed perfectly on a topmost branch. We watched her for a while, stretching and preening, looking at ease back where she belongs, in the wild.

10th  November  2012

Last night we were out collecting the first grey seal pup of the year. He was found on the road near Millport. He has a few tufts of baby coat left,  is thin and was dehydrated. The pup will be less than 3 weeks old, and will need lots of loving care. His name is Cumbrae.


9th  November  2012

Today we would like to say a big thank you to the 22 volunteers from RES who have given up a day of their time to help with construction work at Hessilhead. The new cygnet enclosure is almost complete, and a large deer enclosure has been transformed into a wintering enclosure for the 4 young badgers  that we have in care. Thank you also to Magnox, who gave a generous donation to buy the materials for the cygnet enclsoure.

8th  November  2012

This week has brought in another mixed collection of wildlife casualties. The most unusual was a drunken great black-backed gull. It was found at Kilbirnie Loch, and our first impression was that the bird was seriously concussed. It couldn't stand and couldn't hold up its head. It was only when we opened the massive beak that we noticed the smell of fermenting yeast and saw the remnants of bread dough in the mouth. The bird must have been scavenging and found the dough, and eaten to excess. Now it was suffering the consequences of its greed. The bird recovered in a few days and has now been released.


An underweight cygnet came from Mossblown and a very weak adult swan came from Renfrew Ferry. A healthy swan came from knightswood Pond, though there had been concern that it was limping. A few more hedgehogs have come into care, and most of these will here for the winter. A roe buck caught in a fence at Eglinton Country Park sadly didn't survive. Today we released a half grown brown hare, a magpie, a crow and 2 rabbits.

4th  November  2012

The highlight of the weekend was releasing a woodcock. The bird was found in Ayr, yesterday. It was outside Asda, on the ground, not moving and apparently not seeing. It had probably flown into the glass. This is the time of year when we expect a woodcock or two. The ones that come into care are thought to be continental birds, that have just arrived in Scotland on migration for the winter. They are nearly all collision cases. Yesterday's woodcock was perfectly still when it arrived here. We left it quietly in a cardboard box on a heat pad. Later we gave it some earthworms, and by this morning they had gone. We tested the bird in an aviary before releasing it on the edge of the wood. It lost no time in leaving and flew strongly, perhaps to continue its migration further south.



                   1st  November  2012

There has been a mix of new arrivals over the past week or so, but most surprising was the clutch of four mallard ducklings that were rescued yesterday. Ten of them were spotted at Maxwell Park pond on Tuesday, but too late in the day to attempt a rescue. By Wednesday morning there were only 6, and by the time the rescue team arrived the family had dwindled to four. These ducklings had little chance of survival, partly due to a lack of food at this time of year, lack of cover and the short hours of daylight. In addition their mother didn't seem very diligent. the ducklings were often seen paddling around the pond on their own, and the resident heron must have thought Christmas had come early. Now the ducklings are snuggled together under a brooder in the hospital. They are feeding well, and their high pitched calls could almost make us think it must be spring!


Two days ago a lady brought a half grown hare that she found two months ago, close to her home near Patna, when it was only days old. The lady has made a good job of rearing this hare. It is well grown and nervous, just as it should be. It will spend a short time at Hessilhead, and weather permitting, will be released before winter really begins.

We collected a barn owl from the vet in Girvan. He has been caring for the owl for 2 weeks, and now it needs to convalesce in one of our aviaries. It had a badly injured leg, and that will take time to repair.

This morning a tawny owl was brought from Alexandria. It was found at the roadside, so may have been clipped by a car, but its main problem is starvation. For some reason this owl hasn't been finding enough food. It has been getting rehydration fluids all day today, and has just enjoyed eating a day old chick.

Two cygnets were brought into care on Monday. Both were collision cases. One of them had spectacularly landed on the roof of high rise flats, and then flown into another building. The other had merely landed badly on a road, fallen forwards and cut the tip of its beak.

Sadly a roe deer with two broken legs couldn't be saved, and a badger found on the A71 was dead on arrival.

This evening a small pipistrelle bat was brought to the hospital. I think it has overdosed on Halloween stories. You should see it licking it lips while eating liver!


Today I heard a bird hit our kitchen window. I found the goldfinch in a bowl of water, wings spread, semi-conscious. I brought it round to the hospital, put it in a heated cage, and left it quiet. Two hours later the bird was hopping round the cage and eating niger. It was dark by then, but at first light tomorrow it will be released. I guess it will fly straight back to the feeders.                                                                                                       

21st  October  2012

There has been a mixed batch of new arrivals this week. Hedgehogs, some of them very small, are coming in almost every day. The smallest weighs 150 gm. There is no doubt that he will be with us till spring. There have been a few more swans, no serious problems, just in the wrong place. A blue tit survived being attacked by a cat, as did a baby woodmouse. Two kestrels came on the same day. Both had wing injuries. One has moved out to an aviary, and the other, which was seriously underweight, will move out in a day or two. Both may take quite a long time to gain strength in their wings.

There was bad news this morning. We had been pleased with the progress made by a young roe deer after she had been treated by the osteopath. She was eating well, and seemed to have accepted the light weight neck support. She was always calm and placid. This morning we discovered she had died in the night; we don't know why.

This evening we were called to a supermarket car park in Stewarton, where a fox was behaving oddly, standing beneath the cash point, peering in the glass doors, and walking up to people. By the time we arrived a lady had purchased two sachets of cat food, and the fox was obviously enjoying these. He didn't intend being caught though. He smartly dodged behind a pillar and left the car park by squeezing between railings. The good news was he looked fit and healthy. Perhaps he often gets fed in the car park.


  15th  October  2012

Andy and I came back from dry, warm, sunny Norfolk to be greeted by our usual wet and blustery weather. It was good to see that quite a few patients had been released in our absence. A fox that was rescued from a goal net had returned to its territory, a kestrel had left the aviary after staying for nearly 2 weeks with the hatch open, and swans had been taken to Irvine Harbour. We are really into the swan season now. Most of the recent arrivals are cygnets that are just taking wing and leaving home. It is surprising how often they get into trouble. Some crash land on roads; others land on someone else's territory and get chased away. Today a cygnet was found in a ditch in Kilbarchan. This was a particularly unlucky cygnet. It had a cut that required stitching under its wing, and was also smeared in sewage that ran into the ditch when a drain burst. It looks quite content this evening, swimming around our clean swan pond, its wing patched up.

1st October  2012

We had two unexpected arrivals at the rescue centre today. This morning a juvenile great crested grebe was brought from Cumbernauld. It had been found on land, so it was understandable that the people who found it thought it may be injured. Grebes have their legs right at the end of the body, and they are hopeless at walking. As it struggled to move it probably looked as if its legs were useless. We tested it on our indoor swan pond, and it swam gracefully from end to end, no problems noticed. It was released on Castle Semple Loch this afternoon.                                              


The next surprise was a storm petrel, picked up in Sauchiehall Street in the middle of Glasgow, at midnight. It was lucky not to have been trampled by people going clubbing. Storm petrels are tiny seabirds, smaller than a house sparrow, with dinky black webbed feet and tube noses. It is amazing that they survive the winter at sea. This little juvenile must have been blown inland by the recent gusty weather, though it did seem to be in good condition. This evening we released it at Irvine. It was windy there, but after a split second fall, it spread its wings, circled and was off towards the sea.


30th September  2012

The recent blustery weather has brought in quite a few seabirds. Guillemots have been picked up along the coast and also inland as far as Aberfoyle and Stirling. Some were pathetically underweight and didn't survive more than a few hours. Others are doing well and now living in the seal shed. They can bathe here as they wish, and waddle up to the food dish whenever it is replenished. Young gannets were in better condition and most of them were released quite quickly. Thanks to the Scottish SPCA for washing two that were contaminated. They are back in the wild now.                                        


We released lots of hedgehogs earlier in the week, but still have 40 or so in care that are gradually creeping close to release weight. We hope to get many of them out before winter, but a little fellow that arrived a couple of days ago, weighing only 120 gm, is likely to be here  till spring.

Swans took a lot of time this week. Two swans were shot at Bowling last weekend. We visited the area 3 times, but couldn't persuade the male swan to come close enough for us to catch. On day 1 he couldn't eat, on day 2 he could suck soggy bread from the water, and on day 3 was feeing quite well. Lets just hope his wound doesn't get infected. It was no wonder he was wary of people. He was shot from just a few feet!

Yesterday we rescued a swan from Ardeer Rec, Stevenston, that has been tangled in fishing line for nearly two weeks. We made several visits to the pond early last week; then we were told that the tackle had disappeared. That wasn't the case, it had just settled under feathers and was difficult to see. Yesterday, while trying to remove the hook from neck, she got her beak hooked too. that meant she couldn't lift her head away from her back. We received several phone calls and went to her rescue straightaway. She is feeling much better today and has moved from the hospital to the swan pond. We also responded to a swan call from Old Kilpatrick, but this turned out to be a false alarm, and today a swan was rescued from a bowling green in Elderslie. Apparently the green was flooded this morning, so the swan must have thought it was landing on a new lake!


20th September 2012

We took advantage of the good weather on Tuesday and Wednesday to release patients and move others to new enclosures. The 4 roe deer fawns moved to the big enclosure where they will spend the winter. The move went well, though I always worry about getting them into crates. The deer are instinctively nervous and panic when they see the carrying box. It was great to see them enjoying lots of space, bounding around the enclosure at top speed, stopping and starting, changing direction and following the leader. They will be in this enclosure till spring, when they will be ready for release.

Two evenings were spent releasing fox cubs , and 5 tawny owls and a kestrel were released from their aviaries at Hessilhead. Food will be left for as long as they want it. A family of swans was released too, on Castle Semple Loch. The release programme ground to a halt today, with heavy rain from morning till night. We are hoping for some more good weather to release the swallows and house martins still in care.

17th  September   2012

Two weeks ago Andy and I left for a holiday in the Western Isles. It was typical late summer weather, blue skies, sunshine, with just a hint of a chill early in the morning. We returned to gales and heavy squalls, leaves littering the paths and a drop in the temperature. There is no doubt that autumn has arrived. The gales have brought an influx of guillemots. most of them washed up on beaches, but the latest to arrive was found in Aberfoyle forest! Sadly the guillemots are very thin and few have any chance of surviving. A few young gannets have been picked up inland, mainly around Kilmacolm, Houston and Paisley. These are in good condition and can be released quickly. A fulmar is another of the storms.

Other recent casualties include a road traffic accident fox. This was badly concussed, but has recovered from that. He also has a lame front leg, probably caused by radial nerve damage. This could repair in time.

Autumn juvenile hedgehogs are keeping us busy. Most are suffering from internal parasites and associated infections. They require a lot of treatment and care. Andy and I brought 23 hedgehogs back from N Uist. Some of these have been released. We hope to have others out later this week.

An unusual casualty is a half grown common shrew. It eats well, rushing around its tank and pouncing on mealworm pupae. We must remember that shrews need to eat a square meal every two hours. Otherwise they will die of starvation.

While we were away our rescue team sorted out a territorial dispute between three families of swans o the canal at Old Kilpatrick. One family was brought to Hessilhead, but we hope to relocate them tomorrow. Our family group of parents with 7 cygnets is also ready for release.


27th  August  2012

Two young swans are feeling much better this evening having had fishing tackle removed. The first cygnet came from Erskine, from the slip at the site of the old Erskine ferry. Someone who feds the swans regularly noticed that this cygnet couldn't swallow. That was on riday, and on Sunday the cygnet was captured. We could feel a hook near the top of the neck, but it was too far down the throat for us to reach. So today the cygnet was x-rayed, then operated on to remove a treble hook, a swivel and a length of wire. Thanks to Ivybank vet clinic staff for their immediate attention.


It took longer for us to catch cygnet number 2. It was reported last Friday at Applecross basin on the Forth and Clyde canal. It had two treble hooks in its upper mandible. These were attached to a metal lure that was firmly wedged in the cygnet's beak, preventing it from opening its beak to eat. Because the cygnet couldn't eat, and was no doubt in considerable pain, it wasn't coming close enough for us to catch it, even when its parent and sibling were coming for bread. We tried on Friday evening, and again on Saturday morning without success, but this evening Andy managed to grab the cygnet. The hooks were removed and the cygnet has been given antibiotics and painkillers. It should recover in a few days.


The rest of today's news is mostly a list of what we didn't do because of the weather. We didn't release swallows and dunnocks, a sparrowhawk and a kestrel. We did take in some new casualties, including hedgehog, bat and magpie.

26th August  2012

We have had a busy few days. On Friday we ran a Wildlife First Aid and Animal Handling Day for 6 of the Glasgow Countryside Rangers and the 2 Rangers from Dams to Darnley Country park. A good day was had by all, and hopefully the rangers feel more confident about dealing with wildlife casualties and giving advice to members of the public. Yesterday we ran another Wildlife First Aid day. This was attended by 13 of our members and supporters. It was a great day, with lots of interest, willingness to handle casualties and searching questions. A long-eared bat was an unexpected star for most of the group, and a juvenile hedgehog gave a spontaneous demonstration of self-anointing. This is strange behaviour peculiar to hedgehogs, where the animal licks an object till it produces lots of froth, and then stretches into seemingly impossible positions to spread the froth on its spines. No-one is sure what this is all about. The stimulus yesterday was Janet's hand. She had just eaten a banana, and there may also have been a scent of hand wash or sanitizer.              


22nd  August  2012

Andy and I were away for ten days, and what a lot of changes there seemed to be when we returned to the centre a few days ago. The fox cubs look quite grown up now, the oldest cygnets are well grown and almost ready for release, and the smaller cygnets had grown too. There are not many mallard ducklings left, and most of the house martins and swallows had been released. There were two late swifts in the hospital, and a very late dunnock chick. More baby hedgehogs had been taken into care, and most of them are doing well, and a family of hand reared rabbits look really good and active. Two more sparrowhawks had crashed into windows, both making good recoveries,


On Monday we released most of the young gulls. We were relieved that the ones that had breathing problems when we left home, had responded to the rather intensive treatment and recovered well. Only a few late arrivals remain.


                                                           5th  August  2012

This week the 4 badger cubs moved to a bigger enclosure. Three of them went into a carrying box without too much trouble. It took about an hour to catch the 4th. The fox cubs had their last dose of wormer, and it was quite clear that we have done a good job of keeping them wild. They were doing walls of death round their enclosures to escape being caught!             


Yesterday we did a Hedgehog training day. There was no shortage of hedgehogs. We have lots of babies in care, several little family groups and 3 hogs were flown off the Uists on Wednesday. Lots of our hedgehogs are ready for release. Let us know if you have a suitable release site.


We also have a litter of rabbits being hand reared, there are late clutches of blackbirds, more dunnocks and 4 pied wagtail chicks. Kirsten made the mistake of calling in on her day off today, just when we got a call about a swan on Cumbrae, that had fishing tackle in its mouth. Kirsten went to the rescue. The hook has been removed and after a short course of antibiotics it will return to its family near Millport.

I'm going to pack the campervan now, as we are heading north tomorrow for a holiday in the N W Highlands. Hopefully we'll miss the floods and landslides.

31st July  2012

Over the past few days several hedgehogs, both young and adult, have been admitted with fly strike. It doesn't take long for flies to home in on an injured animal, and to lay their eggs around the wound. In this warm weather the eggs hatch quickly, and the tiny maggots start feeding on flesh straight away. They burrow deep into wounds and creep into eye sockets, ears, mouth and anus. Some hedgehogs have so many maggots that the kindest thing is to put them to sleep, as often the wounds are serious too. Even a small number of maggots can be difficult to remove, and only a few need to be missed for a lot of damage to be done. The eggs must be removed too, or crushed to destroy them. So please, if you find a hedgehog lying in the open, during the daytime, take it into care straightaway. Put it in a covered cardboard box, with some warm bedding, and give us a call. The sooner we can treat these casualties the more likely they are to make a full recovery.

30th  July  2012

Last week we released 66 of the common gulls that were hatched at Hessilhead. The birds looked good, almost fully grown now, fully feathered and flying well. We had seen them  foraging for earthworms in the piles of old bark that lined one side of their enclosure, so we were confident that they were able to fend for themselves. The birds were put into carrying boxes, two to a box, and loaded into a van provided by Liz Parsons of Starling Learning. This meant we could take all the birds on one trip, releasing them as a flock and saving time at Hessilhead. (Thanks Liz). The gulls were released at Hunterston Sands. They flew from the boxes without hesitation, and quickly spread out over the sands. Some were seen searching for food. Several adult common gulls were further out in the bay, an indication that we had chosen a good release site. In the afternoon of the same day 30odd lesser black backed gulls were released at Troon.


More bats came into care from the roosts at Kilbirnie and Dalry, but all of these have now been released. We have made a temporary repair to the ceiling of the hot tub house, hopefully preventing any more bats getting trapped, and we are told that a repair has also been made at the Job Centre. Another 14 bats were brought from a disturbed roost in Bridge of Weir. They were quite lethargic, and received the usual rehydration therapy before being fed. This evening they are going back home.


Two sparrowhawks were returned to their territories at the weekend and a kestrel was released from Hessilhead. It was a young bird that was found locally. We enjoyed releasing 3 young swifts. They are amazing birds, that begin climbing high as soon as they are released, and often we see them darting after insects. These young birds may not land for the next 3 years, by which time they will be old enough to breed.

We recently had a visit from an Scottish SPCA Inspector. This is not unusual as the SSPCA regularly bring us wildlife casualties. On this occasion, though, the Inspector said they had received a complaint, that we were not looking after our goats and donkeys properly, that our pigs had no water, and that we had ducks in muddy ponds. Well, we have no goats, donkeys or pigs. The pigs that some of you may have seen beside our drive belong to a neighbour, and they are well looked after. There is even a stream flowing through their pen. We do have ducks, and many of the ducks that we have reared and released this year, have stayed around and enjoyed dabbling in the puddles at the roadside. Ducks plus water equals mud, so the puddles may have been muddy, made muddy but happy healthy ducks. The Inspector found no problems. He hadn't expected that he would. Nevertheless, it was upsetting to think that someone had reported us, either because they misinterpreted something that they saw, or for some other reason. It would have been better if they had spoken with us.


2nd  July  2012

It has been a very busy couple of weeks, with patients coming and going and little time for keeping you up to date.

Bats     By the beginning of this week there were lots of baby bats in care. On Wednesday a familiar figure came into reception, with a box of bats found in the Kilbirnie Job Centre. This is a regular occurence. Most years some bats find their way down through pipe shafts, but seem unable to find their way back. They usually become trapped in offices that are rarely used, and on this occasion the 10 bats were badly dehydrated. Another dozen had been found dead. It took a lot of time to rehydrate these bats, and then to feed them up till they were strong enough to fly. Last night they were all released.

On Wednesday we had a call from The Abbey Care Foundation, who have a residential unit near Dalry. We have been there before, rescuing bats found in the hot tub house. This time there were 37, many of them very weak. The problem here is the building. There is a big bat roost in the roof of the building, but the ceiling is made of flimsy wood which warps with the heat and dampness, allowing the bats into the hot tub room, rather than them  having to exit the usual way. if the hot tub room door is closed, the bats are trapped. Again they seem unable to find their way back to the roost. 32 of these bats were returned to the roost on Wednesday evening, but we found another 5. All were returned last night.


Swans    There was a problem on the canal at Kirkintilloch, with several members of one family becoming tangled in fishing line. Sadly 1 cygnet died. 1 has remained at Hessilhead, but the female  swan had line removed and was able to return to her family. A big male swan was brought in from Springburn park. He has an injured foot, but is going back to his family tomorrow.

Hedgehogs arrive every day; many of them are babies, found alone and hungry, There have been quite a  lot of injured adults too. Most of the babies are doing really well. Not many have needed bottle feeding. Even hoglets at 100gm are drinking milk from a bowl........a very small bowl. On Friday 24 hedgehogs were delivered from the Western Isles. This included 3 family groups.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of releasing a swift, a cuckoo and  after a few false starts, a leveret. The leveret seemed to get stressed when carried to the release site. Eventually she went off well.


More swifts are in care, along with 2 nests of swallows and several of house martins. We have a blackcap ready for release. He was so tiny when he came here that we didn't know what he was for 2 weeks!


 2 great spotted woodpeckers were released, one of them having recovered from a fractured wing.

After a slow start to the raptor season there are quite a lot in care now. We have 3 buzzards, one of them a nestling, 4 kestrels, a peregrine, also a youngster, and 2 sparrowhawks, plus 2 sparrowhawks have been released recently.


 9th  July  2012

At this time of year we have many hand reared birds and animals ready for release, but the wet weather is slowing down our release programme. The ducks are happy, waddling around the centre, dabbling in puddles, making mud and seeing no reason to go and live on the quarry pond. Most of  our wildfowl enclosures are muddy, but surely there must be a dry, hot sunny spell to come! We did take advantage of a dry afternoon to send some swallows and house martins on their way, and 2 sparrrowhawks were released too...not in the same location. A great spotted woodpecker, a raven and a wren were released yesterday and we have a roe deer just about ready to go.

The past week has been busy with a variety of new patients. Today badger cub number 4 was brought by the SSPCA. She was found near Galashiels with a wound on her back, and is now snuggled up with our other 3 badgers in a great big pile of straw. Yesterday we rescued an adult fox from Linwood. Apparently it had been hanging around some gardens for the past few days, and people had been feeding it. The fox is either very ill, very tame or just laid back. It is eating well and moves ok. Strangely the hair on its back is black. It doesn't look normal, but doesn't feel contaminated. The fox was a bit underweight, but shows no other signs of disease or injury.                             

Another young weasel came yesterday too. This one is much smaller than the first to arrive, but in a few weeks they should be able to play together before being released.                  


At teatime yesterday we had a call about a young roe fawn that had been rescued from a water tank, on the north side of the Firth of Clyde. A team effort brought the deer here. The rescuers took her to the ferry at Dunoon, and one of our volunteers collected her there and delivered her to the centre. She was almost dry when she got here, but still very shocked. Today she has settled down, been eating vegetation and drinking goat's milk from a bowl. It looks likes she will be ok.

We have 3 baby pipistrelle bats now, more ducklings and some baby hedgehogs. A juvenile kestrel came in at the weekend, so thin it could hardly stand. It has been on fluids for 24 hours and is now having small meaty meals. The cygnets that came as eggs have moved outdoors, most of the common gulls are now in a large flight and the number of young herring and lesser black backed gulls is building up. Hopefully most of the common gulls will be released next week.


30th  June  2012

Andy and I came back from holiday on Thursday evening, with 20 Uist hedgehogs in the campervan. We spent the holiday on Harris, had a fantastic trip to St Kilda with blue skies and a flat calm sea, and enjoyed seeing spectacular wildlife in lovely surroundings. Pat brought the hedgehogs from Uist to Harris early on Thursday morning, and we would have been home by 8pm had there not been a landslide on the Loch Lomond Road. A 75 mile detour through the Trossachs meant that we weren't back here till 9.30.

Every thing has grown while we've been away. The Magnum cygnets are almost fully grown, ducklings were ready for release, all the tits have gone now and more blackbirds and starlings are in aviaries ready to go. Tomorrow the woodpecker will move outside, we have released the herons this evening. The common gulls that were hatched here are almost fully feathered now, and lots of Lesser blacked backed and herring gulls have arrived. There are 5 new cygnets that arrived as eggs. Their nest was lifting on flood waters, but someone waded in and rescued the eggs before they were washed away. The baby hedgehogs that were born here were all around their feeding dish this evening, enjoying a meal of tinned cat food. Another litter of hoglets was born in care, and other young hedgehogs have been found alone. The leverets are huge, waiting for a dry day to be released, and the rabbits are coming on well too. Bramble the badger seems bigger than ever, and probably Bodger and Bryan have grown a bit, but they still seem a lot smaller than Bramble. There are a few more clutches of ducklings, two young oystercatchers and a new roe fawn. There was another tiny fawn but sadly it didn't survive. The staff and volunteers have obviously been very busy while we were away, enjoying better weather than they had here.

17th June  2012

Yesterday Karen was in action again, rescuing a shag that was tangled in fishing line and hooks, and had then got snagged on ropes at ferry slip in Gourock. We removed the hooks, gave the bird antibiotics and released it today.

Another roe fawn came today. It was rescued from the R Dee in Dumfries and Galloway late last night, by the SSPCA. The river was in spate so it was lucky to survive. It is a strong fawn but still seems quite shocked.

Tomorrow Andy and I are going on holiday...for at least a week! We are heading to Lewis and Harris, and hopefully we will see a little sunshine. So no updates for a while, though I am sure it will be busy while we are away.

15th  June  2012

It has been another busy week, with all the Open day paraphernalia to clear as well as dealing with many new patients and continuing the long hours of feeding the many young birds.

We have 3 badger cubs now, Bramble has been joined by two smaller cubs, Bodger and Bryan. They spend all day sleeping together, and eat and explore their enclosure at night. So far I haven't managed to get a decent picture of all 3 cubs.


We moved some of the fox cubs around this week, so some have larger enclosures now. We are pleased with their progress. Most of them are nervous of people.


A new roe buck was brought in early yesterday morning. He had been hit by a car on the A737, was badly concussed, but seems quite lively and alert now.        


Many of the young birds have moved out to aviaries now, and soon will be released to the wild. Their hospital places have been taken by more youngsters. I thought you would like to see the young woodpecker who arrived as a week old chick 3 weeks ago. Now he must learn to feed himself, and already knows that he should hammer soft wood, searching for beetles and larvae.


We enjoy seeing the progress that our youngsters make, but some days there are disappointments. Yesterday we went to Robertson park in Renfrew, following a report that a dog had attacked a cygnet.Andy  waded out to the island to retrieve the cygnet, which was clearly distressed. Sadly it had a broken back and was put to sleep. The same day I admitted a magpie with an airgun pellet in its shoulder, and  Karen, our volunteer in Greenock spent a lot of time persuading Tesco and Rentokil to remove nets that were preventing adult jackdaws from feeding their young. Worst of all was a call that came from  a Grammer School, reporting an incident in which a female pupil had burned a pigeon to death. They were asking if we would take the surviving youngster. Our staff and volunteers were shocked by this call. I am sure you will be too.

To finish on a happier note, we have a new roe deer fawn that is feeding well, and kestrels and sparrowhawks are making progress. Our hand reared rabbits have moved outside and the leverets will be off to the wild soon.


11th June  2012

Yesterday the sun shine on our Open Day. We all had a wonderful time. Visitors saw badger cubs, fox cubs, our swan family, young owls and many other birds. Seeing tiny nestlings being hand fed in the hospital was a highlight for many people. there was a lovely atmosphere throughout the afternoon, with people keen to understand the work we do and how it is accomplished. Thank you to everyone who came, made donations, joined the trust and supported the fundraising stalls and games. Also a big thank you to all the volunteers who put so much effort in making the event such a big success. We took in over 11,000.



Today we had a visit from Annabel Goldie, MSP and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Annabel has supported and work before, and was keen to see how Hessilhead is progressing. She was surprised and delighted to see so many new enclosures and aviaries, and to see so many young birds and animals making good progress. We also had the opportunity to discuss snaring, an issue that concerns us very much.

6th  June  2012

Just in case you have forgotten a wee reminder that it is our Open Day on Sunday. We are still collecting bric a brac, plants, books, prizes for tombola and bottle stalls. We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, between 12 and 4.  There will be lots to do, and it will be a unique opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes at Hessilhead.

3rd  June  2012

This evening David carried out his second successful deer rescue of the week. The deer was trapped in an enclosed area in Greenock. Karen, our representative in Greenock, has been monitoring the deer for a few days, and today decided it needed help. David and Kristiina, our Finnish student, met Karen and her helper Neil. They soon had the deer in a net, but then had to slide it under the fence, before taking it to nearby woodland where it was released. Well done to the rescue team.


    2nd  June  2012

The first roe deer fawn of the year came today. She was handed in to the emergency vets in Glasgow at 2am this morning. We have no details of why or where she was found. She is strong and lively, and escaped from the box in Kirsty's car when being brought to Hessilhead this morning. She is beginning to the bottle and is quite calm now.


      1st  June  2012

It has been a busy week with many more nestlings and fledglings coming into care. There have been lots of magpies, jackdaws and crows, only a few tits, a few blackbirds and a  great spotted woodpecker.

Our common gull eggs have started hatching. We have 8 chicks now, feeding with a little encouragement, and this evening the first Lesser Black-backed gull chick was brought in from Greenock. It is surprising that chicks can survive falling from tenement roofs.


There have been other patients too. I missed seeing the adult male sparrowhawk that was found in a  garden. It made a quick recovery and was soon released. It is always good to get adult birds out quickly during the breeding season.

On Wednesday David and Marianne netted a roe deer that was trapped in a car park close to the Squinty Bridge in central Glasgow. No-one knows what it was doing there, but it certainly needed to be rescued. It was released in woodland later in the day.

On Tuesday our first badger cub of the year was delivered. This cub, Bramble, was reared by the SSPCA, and has come to Hessilhead to enjoy our large enclosure, and hopefully join our other released badgers in the wood.

         25th  May  2012

Apologies for no updates recently, even though the centre has been busy with lots of youngsters demanding food at frequent intervals.

Mistletoe, the Christmas day seal was released on Thursday last week. I wasn't there to see her go, but the pics are great. She seems to have done a lot of posing before setting off to explore further afield.


Last weekend I was at the Scottish Birdfair, manning a stand for Hessilhead. It was worth the effort, as we had the opportunity to speak with lots of people, get some new supporters and give advice about wildlife problems.


On Monday and Tuesday we had 13 animal care students with 2 staff from Kirklees college in Yorkshire. The students were full of enthusiasm and we thoroughly enjoyed having them here.


Over the past couple of weeks more than 300 common gull eggs have been brought to Hessilhead for incubation. These eggs have been removed under licence, on condition that the chicks are reared and returned to the wild. We are waiting hopefully for the first signs of chipping.

Other new arrivals include more starlings, though fewer than last year, and more blackbirds, robins and dunnocks. We are well into the rook season now, with newcomers every day, and we have a surprising number of jackdaw chicks for early in the season. The first magpie chicks are here, and the first tits. Tawny chicks are late this year, though we have 4 in the hospital now, and another is on the way.

There was a surprise this morning when we discovered that 2 of the Uist hedgehogs, delivered on Tuesday, had given birth during the night. Sadly, one of the hogs rejected her young, and only one is surviving. We hope the other mum will rear all her babies.

A barn owl was released recently, and 2 more will have their aviary opened tonight. We also have some tawnies ready for release.

We have 20 fox cubs now. Today a cub came from Girvan, having been found unconscious on the road. Earlier this week a cub was rescued from a narrow gap between a fence and a wall; doing well now. Sadly a fox cub attacked by a spaniel died from internal bleeding.

14th  May  2012

Just to update you on a few good news stories. The young otter that came in a few weeks ago, paralysed in hind legs, has made a full recovery and is now living outdoors. The heron that had fishing hooks removed from its throat is outdoors too, looking good. The cygnets are growing well, and on the very rare warm day they enjoy pottering around in a grassy enclosure. The first young blackbirds have been released, and mistle thrush, more blackbirds, house sparrows and dunnocks are in aviaries and nearly ready for release. Three leverets are feeding well too. The tawny owl with the pinned wing is flying well in an aviary, and a sparrowhawk with a pinned wing is ready to move from the hospital.


We have the first tawny chick, and a young raven came in today. There are 2 litters of rabbits, just beginning to nibble food but still taking milk from a bottle. This evening 2 goldfinch chicks were the survivors of a nest raided by crows, and a nestful of great tits, only a few days old, were discovered to be needing help because a camera was installed in the box. the chicks were gaping weakly, but no p parents visited the box. On inspection the chicks were found to be cold, but they have warmed up now and are feeding well.            


6th  May  2012

Fiona use to volunteer at Hessilhead. Today she took an early morning walk at Castle Semple Loch, and discovered a heron struggling in the water. She waded in and rescued the heron, abandoned her walk and brought it to Hessilhead. Fiona had already removed a hook from the heron's back, which gave it more movement. Even so, line was still wrapped tightly round the heron's neck, though the bird had managed to regurgitate the bait, a small fish. The really bad news was that the heron had swallowed line and hook. We could feel a treble hook in the bird's throat, but it was out of reach. We called our bird vet in Cumbernauld, who said to take the heron there as soon as possible. Under general anaesthetic not one, but 2 treble hooks were removed. Imagine how painful it must have been, with 6 points digging into flesh every time the bird moved or tried to swallow. The bird is now recovering at Hessilhead. It is an adult heron that could have dependent young. Hopefully this bird's partner can provide enough food for the family.


Other new arrivals include the first 2 young rooks of the year, starling chicks and a mystery nestling. Yesterday a young raven came from Rothesay. It had been hanging from its nest with nesting material tangled round its leg. The leg was badly damaged, and sadly, the bird didn't survive.

2nd  May 2012

Andy and I were away for 2 days, and found the hospital much busier on our return. Fox cub No 17 came from Paisley. She is a skinny scabby cub, covered in ticks and was dehydrated. Today she seems happier, and has been eating.  The nestling robins have fledged, and look quite grown up now. there are more blackbird chicks, and more house sparrows. The first house sparrow of the year, reared from a 2 day old bruised naked little thing, is in a cage now. He has a very loud voice that ensures he gets fed more often than most other birds.

Yesterday three leverets were found on a pile of coal at a mine near Cumnock. Unfortunately the coal pile had to be moved, so the leverets are here now, snuggled together in a fleece hat and feeding well.


Today there was confusion at the Magnum Boating Pond in Irvine. This morning 6 newly hatched cygnets were spotted with their mother on the island. 9 other swans had flown onto the pond, and were bullying the father of the cygnets. People thought he was injured. When we arrived there was no sign of the injured swan. A female swan came off the island, and 4 cygnets followed. This female swan swam around the island, cygnets behind her. No sign of the other 2. We continued walking around the pond, searching for the injured male, then heard cygnets calling. One cygnet was swimming in open water. three more appeared close to the bank. Then 3 swans started displaying, stretching their necks and then forming the typical heart shaped pattern so familiar of spring. A fourth swan joined them. It was very unusual behaviour. By this time I had lifted 2 cygnets from the water, 2 others were swimming around the 4 swans, being totally ignored. When the 4 swans and 2 cygnets came to bank, we lifted the 2 cygnets. At this point we expected a violent reaction from an adult swan. Nothing happened. There was no interest in the cygnets, and clearly they wouldn't survive long without parents protecting them, as the pond is close to the harbour, with a large population of hungry gulls.  So the cygnets are at Hessilhead now, safe in a brooder. We may never understand these strange events.

28th  April  2012

The otter cub that came into care last Sunday is making good progress. At first she was unable to walk, and it seemed as if her hind legs were paralysed. Now she can walk around and is eating well.


Most of the fox cubs are living outside now, and growing well.          



New nestlings and fledglings include mistle thrush and robins, and this evening 7 baby rabbits were found. They are chunky youngsters, though less than a week old.

24th  April  2012

New patients include a young otter, just about half grown, that was found on a road near Stewarton on Sunday morning. Muddy marks across its lower back and legs made us think there may be a serious back injury, but x-rays have shown no fractures. The otter has been unconscious till this morning, but now is moving around now and has eaten some fish. This morning we picked up a young heron that was found among the road works at Lochwinnoch. Although a bit wobbly and under-weight, it is well grown and should be able to feed itself. A couple of weeks in care should see it in good condition and ready for return to the wild.


7 Uist hedgehogs were delivered. All good good weights and impatient to go. There have been young collared doves, nestling dunnocks and a house sparrow, only a couple of days old.

Fox cub number 16 came from Lockerbie last night. A real fiesty cub, it snarls when disturbed.

19th April  2012

Fox cub number 15 arrived at midnight. She was dehydrated and quite confused, but this morning was looking brighter. Sadly she calls for her mum a lot, but she has eaten well today, and hopefully will soon be able to join other cubs. Number 14 arrived the day before. He is a tiny little cub that was displaying some strange behaviour on arrival, and we feared he might have a brain problem. He has responded to metacam treatment, and feeds himself from a dish. There may still be a problem with his development, as he has such puny matchstick legs. We will feed him well, pamper him and keep our fingers crossed.


We have a leveret now, being bottle reared. These are never easy youngsters to rear, but so far she is feeding well. A clutch of dunnock chicks have joined the feeding round. They are always delightful birds to rear. A blackbird that arrived 9 days ago, tiny and naked, has fledged the nest today, fully feathered. It is amazing how quickly these youngsters grow.


17th  April  2012

We had 2 swan rescues today. The first one was easy. A swan had been trapped between lock gates on the canal for several days. The water was too low and the distance between the gates too short for her to fly out. of course she was hungry. Andy held a piece a bread as low as he could, and the swan reached up as high as she could. that was what we wanted. As she reached up to get the bread Andy grabbed her beak. He lifted her a little so he could then get a better grip on her. Within a minute she was released on the other side of the gate, and swam off indignantly. The 2nd recue posed more of a problem. A swan was trapped in a deep overgrown ditch beside the canal at Bowling. There was a barrier at each end preventing her from escaping, but reaching her was difficult. Fortunately Andy had taken a long handled slasher for clearing the vegetation. Several times Andy got close to the swan, but she ducked beneath overhanging brambles and swam out of reach. A couple of times he got her with the swan hook, but he got vegetation too, and before he could haul her in she twisted her neck out of the hook, escaping again. Then Andy was lucky. He got the swan, but had some trouble returning to the the top of the bank. All ended well.


I thought you might like to see some pics of the baby bat that David is rearing. The youngster has grown a lot, and despite its tiny size, manages to look quite intelligent. Sometimes it looks like a baby dinosaur!


14th  April  2012

Fox cub number 13 arrived on Friday 13th, so not unlucky for everything. His name is Richard and he has made friends with Kenny. A single duckling arrived today. One duckling is usually bad news, but this little survivor has settled in well, eats worms and mealworms, and evens jumps on top of his brooder. The 7 Stevenston fox cubs have learnt to  eat from a dish, but their technique requires improvement. The result is some very messy fox cubs.

12th  April  2012

Three more fox cubs today. The cubs were found in a derelict building 3 days after the entrance hole had been boarded up. The workmen called in Cats Protection League, thinking they were kittens. CPL were kind enough to take the cubs to the vet for life saving rehydration therapy, and then brought them to Hessilhead. A hedgehog, a young pigeon and a juvenile blackbird also admitted today. The blackbird is fully grown; it must be from a very early nest.

Remember that Friday Night is Quiz Night. Teams of 5 or less welcome to join in the fun at the Outdoor Bowling Hall, Kilmeny Terrace, Ardrossan. 7.30 for 8pm start. See you there.

11th  April  2012

Just a quick update after a busy day at the centre. New patients today include a peregrine falcon that was trapped between fences at Hunterston, and a buzzard from Drumpellier Country park. This bird has eye and head injuries. Two mallards came, one from Helensburgh, probably hit by a car, and another from Hessilhead, gang raped, A pigeon came from Johnstone, covered in cooking oil with a spicy tang, and another feral pigeon was shot. There was a swan and a  pipistrelle bat, and a herring gull.

10th  April  2012

There was a big surprise for David today, when he went to check the bats in the indoor bat flight. Hanging outside the bat box was a tiny baby bat. It was cold, but lively. Now it is taking milk from a paint brush......not what we expected at this time of year. The long-eared bat was taken back to the woods where it was found. A razorbill with a wing injury was brought from Lendalfoot, 2 cat victim rabbits came separately, and a pigeon with badly torn skin was stitched back together. Another naked nestling blackbird was brought from Glasgow. It was very hungry, and quite cold, but soon warmed up in the brooder. It demands food almost constantly. At this rate it will catch up with the older chicks!

8th  April  2012

It has been surprisingly quiet to day, with just one hedgehog admitted. Yesterday was busier with a barn owl casualty, another nestling collared dove, a rook, and 2 pigeons. 21 hedgehogs have been released over the weekend.

The fox cubs are doing well. Kenny, the oldest cub has moved into a big cage, Charlie, the middle cub has gained 110 gm in 4 days. This evening she is 'killing' a teddy. The 7 Stevenston fox cubs are feeding well and growing quickly.  Feeding them takes an hour, 4 times a day!


                                              Charlie                                                             Stevenston cub


5th  April  2012

Today didn't get off to a good start. We collected a badly injured swan from Victoria Park in Glasgow. Sadly she couldn't be saved. Then better news. A tiny fox cub was rescued from the slip road onto the M8 at Charing Cross in Glasgow. She is underweight, was dehydrated and has a sore eye. She is looking happier now with a full tummy, curled up under a brooder.


We failed the Stevenston fox cubs. We were hoping all day that the vixen would have moved her cubs overnight, but at tea time we got a call to say they were still under the floor boards. The owners of the house couldn't be persuaded to leave them any longer. See how Andy retrieved the 7 cubs!


Other patients of the day included another swan, this time a survivor, a magpie and a baby collared dove.                                                                  

4th  April  2012

Another buzzard came in today. Emaciated, like the last one. It has old wounds on a wing and foot. perhaps it has been unable to hunt. Also a young rabbit from Arran; It was rescued from a cat yesterday. 2 young blackbirds, perhaps a week old, were found in their nest, on the ground, in Greenock, and 3 pigeons also came into care.


This evening we went to see a litter of fox cubs in Stevenston. They are under the floor of a house that is undergoing total renovation. When the people heard a noise today, they lifted floor boards, and saw the vixen creep away, leaving her family of cubs. When we lifted the floor boards again this evening, the same thing happened, though the vixen had moved her cubs a short distance. The vixen didn't go far, we could hear her under the same floor. Obviously she didn't want to leave her cubs; they are probably less than a week old. We have boarded up the hole again, and hope that during the night the fox will move her family to a safer location. If not, we may have to take the cubs into care. We hope not, they should be with their mum.


3rd  April  2012

We went to Howwood Trout Fishery this evening, following a report of a swan with fishing line around its beak. The swan was easy to catch, it was so hungry. The swan must have picked up a loop of discarded line while feeding. A loop of the line had dug deeply into the upper beak. The other loop had been swallowed, but couldn't go all the way down because of the loop over the upper beak. Whenever the swan tried to eat, the line cut further into the beak, and the food got trapped in the line down the throat. We could feel a large amount of food trapped in the oesophagus. On returning to the centre we managed to loosen the line. By gently pulling, the line was removed from the swan, with the food blockage. Imagine what it was like for the swan, eating but always hungry, because the food couldn't get all the way down. Then very uncomfortable, because of all the trapped food. The beak would have been sore too. Now the swan is eating and drinking. It will be treated with antibiotics and kept at Hessilhead till it gains weight. It should be at least 2 kg heavier than it is.


2nd  April  2012

Andy and I were away last week. We combined a long weekend with a trip to fetch hedgehogs from the Uists. We enjoyed some lovely weather and long walks on empty beaches. Mel had a great time too.


Kirsten took care of the fox cub, and how it has grown!. Its eyes are open now, and it is eating tinned meat from a bowl. It enjoys playing with a teddy but isn't co-operating about having its photo taken. I'll keep trying.

New patients include more hedgehogs, a mallard with a broken wing, a very thin buzzard with a damaged wing, and a swan with a cut caruncle. (knob on beak). We brought 18 hedgehogs back...all ready to go when the weather warms up again.


25th  March  2012

The first fox cub of the year has just arrived. It was found alone in Glasgow, and taken to the emergency vet. The people who found the cub thought it was a kitten....not surprising.


24th  March  2012

A few more hedgehogs have come into care, one of them suffering from a condition known as balloon syndrome. An infection has caused gas to form under the skin, making the hedgehog look very big, but weighing very little. It is being treated with antibiotics and doing well.

Yesterday we were surprised to open a box and find a guillemot. We usually associate these with autumn. It seemed to have suffered some trauma, but was very active and aggressive. Today we moved it to a shed with a pool, and after swimming the guillemot looked quite dry. We decided to release it later, and it was last seem having a bath some distance offshore from Hunterston. Another barn owl and a tawny owl have also been released.

21st  March  2012

Another seal was released today. Tammy, the pup from Stornoway, weighed 48kg. She seemed quite at home in the sea.



This evening two owls were released. A barn owl was taken back to Tarbolton, and we opened the aviary of a tawny owl. The owl has been in care for some time, and there is no point now in taking it back to where it was found. It will have a soft release at Hessilhead.

20th March  2012

We have had a few bats in over the winter months, all pipistrelles. Some remain in care; others have been released during warm spells of weather. A couple of days ago we admitted another bat, this time a brown long-eared bat. It was found in the remains of a fire, lying on its back. The countryside ranger who found the bat kept it for a few days, and tried to release it. Apparently it flew a short distance, then landed and didn't take off again. We cannot see any wing injury, but one eye is sore. The bat is eating well, and last night it flew around the hospital for a while before landing. We will move it to our bat flight soon, so it gets more chance to exercise. Hopefully it will soon be fit enough to go free.


18th  March  2012

Today we had a visit from Lenny and his family.  Lenny is a special little boy who likes wildlife. When he celebrated his 5th birthday recently, Lenny said he didn't want presents. So guests at his party were asked to donate to Hessilhead. Today Lenny brought the donations, and met some of our animals. Thank you, Lenny.


10th  March  2012

Andy collected an injured swan from Whiteinch in Glasgow today. The swan had got trapped in an enclosure, and while trying to escape had torn the skin on its neck. As luck would have it Anne was volunteering today. Anne is a nurse, and soon had the wound cleaned and stitched. The swan must be feeling better; it has been eating this evening.  Next to arrive were two pigeon chicks, newly hatched and shiny. They and their mother had been boarded into a disused building. It was fortunate for them that someone checked and found the nest occupied. Otherwise they would have all starved to death.

  before        and after                            brand new  

8th  March 2012

Andy and I are just back from a trip to Galloway. On the way down took a barn owl back to the farm here she was found. The owl had a badly broken wing that was pinned by the specialist bird vet. As soon as the pins were removed the bird was flying. We gave it another two weeks in an aviary to strengthen its muscles before being released. As it happened, we also had a male owl ready for release, and we had no details of where he had been found. So Teresa and Gavin, who own the farm at Kirkconnel, agreed to take both owls for release. They converted a garage into a makeshift aviary, with a dark sleeping box in one corner. The owls will be kept in the shed for a week or so and fed every evening. Then the window will be opened, and food will be left for a little while longer till the owls get used to hunting again. Teresa and Gavin will be delighted if the barn owls stay to nest on their farm.

After delivering the owls we visited the Ken Dee Marshes and Caerlaverock. We saw plenty of red kites, nuthatch and willow tits, barnacle geese in thousands and a delightful red squirrel searching for buried treasure.

3rd  March  2012

Well done, Toni.

Toni successfully completed her 4 hours silence today. Quite an achievement, as she did this while working with people chatting all around her. She is set to raise well over 1,000. It is not too late to send a donation. Use the Charity Choice option on our web site. Many thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged Toni with our first fund raising event of the year.

2nd  March  2012

Two more seals were released today. Freckles weighed over 50 kg at the weigh in yesterday, and Geordie was just touching 45kg. It was a calm day, and because of a very low tide the seals had to be carried almost to the mouth of the harbour. Both seals left the carrying boxes straightaway, but Freckles thought she would like to explore ashore before heading seawards. She was soon turned around and went to join Geordie who had the right idea.



1st  March  2012

Please support Toni

Many of you will remember that we had quite a lot of damage during the winter storms. It will cost several thousand pounds to replace sheds and aviaries, and this work needs to be completed before the start of our busy season.

Many of you will also know Toni. Toni worked at Hessilhead for many years, and now volunteers two days a week, does lots of fundraising and looks after her two little girls. On Saturday Toni is doing a sponsored silence. This will be difficult for her! However she is determined to succeed, and intends to raise enough money for pay for at least two sheds and aviaries. You can sponsor Toni by sending an email to Hessilhead, or make a donation by using Charity Choice on our web site.

25th  February  2012

The last few days have been busy. On Wednesday the snared fox was released,  on Thursday a tawny owl was taken back to Galston, and on Friday a buzzard was released. Friday saw an influx of casualties. We had a cygnet from a field near Irvine, underweight and lethargic, and a cygnet from Greenock; this one being bullied by its parents. Most cygnets will have left home by now, either because they felt the need to explore, or because their parents have told them it is time to go. There was a house sparrow cat victim, a nestling pigeon and an injured older pigeon, a peregrine and an otter cub. The peregrine was found locally, had a back injury and probably because it was on the ground for so long, has really tatty tail feathers. It has settled in an aviary and is eating well. The otter cub came from Arran. He was found at the roadside a few days ago, and has apparently been eating well. This cub is older than most that come into care, but isn't much heavier. He must have lost a lot of weight, and looks a real Skinny Malinky. He certainly likes trout, so he should be gaining weight soon.

There was also a false callout yesterday. We had a report of a deer trapped in a fence, and had taken a call about a deer in the same location a few days ago. When David and Erica went to rescue the deer, they found it running around, fit and healthy. This was a case of someone thinking that because the deer was living in a patch of rough ground among gardens in suburbia, it was trapped in that area. In fact this deer has plenty of food, is well and seems to have found a safe place to spend a few months.  It may well move away later in the year. This was a genuine mistake, and the call was made in good faith. We are happy to check out cases like this, and delighted to find an animal that doesn't have a problem.

20th  February  2012

We came back from a lovely break in sunny Somerset to typical wet, dreary weather in the west of Scotland. There was good news about some of the patients though. The young roe deer was treated by Yvonne, the osteopath, and we can see quite a lot of improvement. Yvonne will come back again this week. One of the barn owls was ready to move from the hospital, and is flying well in the indoor flight. Another barn owl will return to the vets this week to have pins removed from its wing.

New patients include yet another tawny owl that landed in the fireplace of someone's house. The owl is still quite black, especially around its face, and has been washed twice already, I dread to think how sooty the room must have been,

Sadly another fox was removed from a snare. Luckily for the fox, it was found soon after getting trapped, and there seems to be no damage to the skin. This snare was set in a built up area, across the road from a secondary school. We have been back to the area, checked fences and found no more snares. So the fox should be released later this week. We also checked the fence line where we rescued a badly injured fox last January. We were pleased that we failed to find snares there.

A few more swans have been admitted. Mostly they need worming and some TLC, typical admissions towards the end of winter. One swan from Richmond Park in Glasgow cannot use its left leg, though we cannot feel a break. It is going for an x-ray tomorrow.

7th  February  2012

I have just finished my evening jobs in the hospital. I hand fed the tawny owl that came in last night. It was found at the roadside. No doubt it had been hit by a vehicle, and it isn't seeing properly. It didn't touch any food last night, and was keen to take pieces of food from my hand. Hopefully it will feed itself overnight. I also tube fed the baby pigeon, the first of the year. It looks quite cosy in its fleecy nest, sitting in a box on a heat pad. better than being outside on a night like this. My last job was to change the deer's bedding. We have a young roe deer in the hospital, as it is warmer there than in a shed. She was chased by dogs and hit a fence, and isn't yet able to stand. Later in the week an osteopath is coming to see her.  Yvonne has treated deer successfully in the past. The deer is eating well. She likes chopped carrots and apple, rabbit mix and ivy leaves. She is very calm, almost trusting.

Now I am off to pack. Andy and I are going away for a few days. We are heading for Somerset, where we will attend a full day meeting for wildlife rehabilitator managers, to be held at Secret World on Saturday. We are hoping this lovely weather will last, so we can get plenty of exercise on The Mendips and see some birds on the Somerset Levels. We will return refreshed and looking forward to spring.

5th  February  2012

Although it is a great privilege for us to see wildlife close at hand, we also enjoy seeing birds and animals in their natural habitat, healthy and behaving normally. We were therefore delighted when Tom Hastings, a member of the Ayrshire Bat Group, offered to take us into an old mine working where bats would be hibernating. Suitably clad in waterproof trousers and wellies, hard hats and head torches, we followed Tom down the slippery slope in to the stoop and room system of the old limestone workings. Tom explained that as bats are particularly vulnerable while hibernating, we must observe certain protocols. We must be as quiet as possible; if we find a bat, we must keep the torch on it for as short a time as possible. safety must also be taken seriously. We must stay within site of each other, and keep a look out for unstable rocks on the walls and roof of the caves. The floor was uneven, wet and slippery in places, but it was fairly easy to move around, and search holes and cracks in the rock for bats. Andy found 2 bats, one was difficult to identify, but Tom confidently proclaimed the other to be a Daubenton's. Tom found a Natterer's bat too, the first one that Andy and I had ever seen in the wild.....as far as we know. I find bats amazing creatures. We just cannot really know what it is like to hunt by echo-location, and to be able to find tiny holes in buildings giving access to good roost sites. their hibernation sites are equally amazing. Bats choose underground hibernacula because the temperature is fairly constant, and they prefer an place with high humidity. During the winter, they waken and often take a drink, so finding a tiny crack close to a rock wall with running water, would seem to meet their needs perfectly. Sadly many caves and mines are being blocked up for safety reasons, meaning that the bats have to find alternative sites. We enjoyed our outing, learnt a lot, and had an insight into a different aspect of batlife. I'm up for going again.  On the way back to car we found a  barn owl roost and spotted 2 crossbills flying into the wood.

  3rd  February  2012

A coupe of quiet days as far as intake is concerned, but 5 more successful releases. Today 4 swans were released at Irvine harbour. Yesterday a buzzard was released near to Straiton, close to where it was found a few weeks ago.

1st  February  2012

Today it was perfect weather for a seal release. This morning Libby was put on the scales; 46.5 kg. that is an ideal weight to go. We knew that Poseidon was heavier. He was ready to go last week, but we thought it would be good to release the two seals together, as they have been sharing a tank for a few weeks now.

The sea was flat calm, the sky blue and the sun warm. The seals swam out of the channel slowly, taking their time, playing a little, looking around and staying side by side. It was lovely to see them both so relaxed. When they got into deeper water the seals began splashing and somersaulting, playing like they did in the tank. They headed north, exploring the coastline, not even a backward glance.    Their release will save us 40 a day on our herring bill. We still have 5 seals in care.


It had been quiet this morning, but as soon as we all went out, wildlife started getting into trouble. There was a swan waiting when we returned to the centre. It had been noted he had blood in his mouth. No wonder. A small treble fishing hook was lodged beneath the swan's tongue. It was caught in the fleshy attachment at the back of the mouth. It was tricky removing this hook, but with more illumination form a desk lamp, long handled tweezers, and loads of experience, Andy managed to get it out without causing any more damage. The swan was given local anaesthetic before the procedure, and is now on a course of antibiotics. it must have been incredibly painful, with sharp hooks digging into soft tissue every time the bird moved its head.            


The next patient to arrive was a tawny owl. He fell down a chimney, and apparently changed the colour of the ceiling in the room where he was trapped. I am not surprised; the owl still looks very sooty. We have cleaned its eyes and left it to settle overnight.


Next was a robin, a cat victim. It has no tail feathers and a very sore eye. That is what happens when the sun comes out, the cats go out to play too.

31st  January  2012

Yesterday evening Andy and I went to collect an injured roe deer from Drymen. It is almost an hour's drive from Hessilhead, but this deer needed help. Earlier in the day the young deer was chased by dogs. It hit a fence, collapsed, and hadn't been able to stand since. One of our members, Ianthe,  struggled to carry the deer to her garden. She put it in a small disused shed, and following our advice, covered its head with a jacket. Keeping a deer in darkness helps to keep it calm.  We were surprised to see that the deer was small, smaller than any of our hand reared deer that are still in the big, wooded overwintering enclosure. We guess that something  happened to its mum, and it didn't get as much milk as it should, hence its small size.

Today the deer is brighter. We have her in a large hospital cage, as it is so cold outside just now. This morning we persuaded her to drink some lifeaid, and this afternoon I hand fed her sliced apple. This evening she is picking up sliced apple herself, and I've seen her taking a drink too. We haven't seen the deer try to stand, but resting quietly is good for now.

29th  January  2012

Yesterday morning we had a call from Alec, one of our couriers. He was at Irvine harbour, and had spotted a seal pup on the far bank of the river. He didn't think the pup looked well. We went to investigate, and watched the pup for a while. As the tide flowed, the pup moved up the beach to be clear of the water. This behaviour indicates that a pup is underweight. being on the beach is warmer than in the sea. There were other worrying signs. Often, the seal lay on its tummy. A happy contented seal will usually lie on its back or on its side, often in the typical shape. Also, as could see that the pup was hunched backed. This often indicates a lung problem. While we were watching the pup its mother came ashore. There was some interaction, then the pup moved away and slept again.  The problem was that the pup was on the far side of the river. We needed help from the harbour master, either to give us access to the bridge over the river, or to open the gate at the Stevenston side, so we could drive closer to the beach. As we couldn't contact the harbour master, we decided to wait a day. We felt that as the pup was alert enough to keep moving up the beach, our chances of catching it, when it so close to the water, were slim. Alec said he would check early today.

Alec phoned early this morning. The seal was there, now much further from the water. It was time for action. Andy arranged to meet Alec, and volunteer Paul, at the Ardeer Regeneration Project Security gate. A few phone calls later, permission was given to take the ambulance to the beach. Apparently, as the rescue team approached, the pup set off down the beach, but was soon stopped in its tracks by Paul and Andy. Sadly its mum was on the beach too, and would no doubt be distressed that her youngster was kidnapped. However, a close up look at the pup confirmed our thoughts of yesterday...seriously underweight and with  breathing difficulty. This pup needs more help than its mum could give.

27th  January  2012

There  have been a few calls about foxes this week. On Monday, late at night, we  had a call from someone reporting a fox screaming in agony. We listened to the story and description of the calls, and as we thought, the noises were from mating foxes. January is the peak of the fox mating season, so foxes are particularly noisy now. They do make awful noises, sometimes people think the screams are made by a person being attacked.

The next call came from the Kingspark area of Glasgow early one morning. This was to report an injured fox, and although the fox did appear to have a hind leg problem, it could move fast enough to disappear through gardens. Catching a mobile fox in gardens is almost impossible. There are gaps under fences, through hedges, behind garages and between walls. Foxes know every one of these, and trying to follow one  over high fences, through wide hedges and over walls might give the rescuer some exercise, but rarely ends in success. We may have another report of the injured fox, but it is just as likely that after a few days rest it will recover, and recovering in the wild is better than being in captivity.

The fox reported this morning definitely needed help. It had fallen into a Glasgow dunny, which is a sunken yard, below street level, and this one had walls 12' high. The only access was through a window, so it was impossible for the fox to escape without help. Kirsten and Colin went into the city centre for the rescue. The fox was quickly netted and brought back to Hessilhead.  Kirsten has taken the fox to release it this evening. It will be released close to where it was found, but there will be much less traffic on the roads now.

23rd  January  2012

This winter the weather is being kind to wildlife, though most days a few casualties are brought to Hessilhead. In the past few days these have included two cygnets, Big and Little. Little came from Galston, a puny youngster who has now been wormed and is eating well. Sharing his enclosure is a very large cygnet that was found in a garden in Bridge of Weir. This cygnet has a toe missing, but this is an old injury that has almost completely healed. There is no infection. Of course because the toe is missing, the web between 2 toes is missing too. This may slow the cygnet down a bit but shouldn't be too much of a problem. The good weather means that casualties can be released. In the past few days a sparrowhawk has returned to Stevenston, and a barn owl to Crossroads, near Kilmarnock. Both these birds had broken wings. It is particularly rewarding to see a sparrowhawk make a full recovery. They are never easy patients, always nervous. This bird came into care on New Year's Day, and we strapped its wing immediately. We checked the alignment of broken bones every few days, and were fairly confident that healing was progressing well. The bird had to ne hand fed initially, as is usual with sparrowhawks, and later began to feed itself. After the bandage was removed the bird spent a few more days in a cage, then moved to an aviary. Sometimes sparrowhawks stop eating when moved outdoors, but this bird continued eating well. That meant it had quite a bit of flying practice before being released. Yesterday a Harris Hawk went to a new home with a falconer where it will be flown regularly. Ron also took a buzzard that we have had in care for a few weeks. This bird came in emaciated, but is now well and strong. Unfortunately most of the primary feathers on one wing are broken. Ron will imp (transplant) feathers from another bird onto this wing, meaning that the bird can be released quite soon, rather than having to stay in care till it has moulted. Today we released a heron. It too had been a good patient, but when we opened its aviary door today it lost no time in flying high. It spent quite a while perched atop one of our roadside trees. No doubt it was watching the local herons helping themselves to fish from our seal tanks. I wonder if it will join them there tomorrow?


18th  January  2012

It seemed like being a quiet day, till late afternoon. I went for a walk in the wood, and when I returned Andy and George had rushed out on a rescue. The next we heard was a call from Andy, asking if we could contact George and ask him to take the carrying box a mile along the disused railway track, where he had located the badger. The message said George's phone was turned off (in fact it was in his car at the centre), and strangely, when I called him back, Andy wasn't answering his phone either. That was a bit of a problem. We didn't know where they were and we couldn't contact either of them. Then David noticed Andy's phone in the other vehicle on the drive. So I recalled the last number that had called Hessilhead. Fortunately that was the person who had found the badger, and he was still with Andy. Andy gave me directions to where he was. He wasn't much more than a mile from Hessilhead, but to get there involved a 2 mile drive, then a long walk back. David and I set off to find the rescuers, and as it happened having extra people to carry the badger was useful. It was a rough walk along the overgrown railway track. (Lesson learnt though, never go out on a rescue without a mobile, even when it isn't far from home!).

The badger is in a deep state of shock. It is a good weight, but its tail is missing. There are no other bites or wounds on the badger, and we are puzzled how this could have happened. It has been treated for shock and given antibiotics. Tomorrow it will be examined by a vet.                                                                                                             


16th  January  2012

Shortly after I made the last diary entry our phone line went down, and it wasn't fixed till earlier today. So I now realize how much I have come to rely on phone calls, emails and the internet! We have felt completely out of touch with the world, as our mobile reception here is almost non existent. Needless to say, our intake of casualties reduced considerably, although after a few days we had calls diverted. We still had to go out to retrieve messages that were left. Several swans were rescued during the week, all of them after territorial fighting. People think swans are delightful, elegant and serene. In reality they are the thugs of the bird world, battling over prime breeding sites, and aggressively chasing last year's cygnets away from home. When we went to Durrockstock in Paisley to collect the losers of last week's battle, we were surprised to see a coot busily building a nest. It was January 12th!

Today we collected a barn owl that had been picked up at the roadside this morning. It looks very miserable and is probably very sore, though no bones broken. We have two other barn owls ready for release. It is unusual for us to have so many of them in winter.

The common seal pup that we rescued from Irvine last weekend was a difficult patient for a few days. She didn't eat and didn't want to be hand fed. She bit her handler. After treatment for worms she passed a huge tapeworm and is feeding herself now, so hopefully she will soon gain weight. She looks a real softie, doesn't she?      

8th  January   2012

Yesterday we were called to Irvine Harbour to rescue a seal pup. We were expecting another grey seal, but found a skinny common seal pup lying against a wall on a steeply sloping beach  near the mouth of the river. She is skinny, but has plenty of go about her, and it was a struggle to get this pup into a carrying box. Today there was another bit of a struggle to get the fluids and wormer into her, via a stomach tube. This pup must be at least 4 months old, so she will be used to eating fish. Hopefully she will be self feeding tomorrow. Other casualties of the weekend included a young roe buck that had been caught in a wire fence and a young swan. Sadly the roe buck had a dislocated femur, with a lot of associated tissue damage. He didn't survive. The cygnet was being harassed by its parents. Most pairs of swans will be chasing last year's youngsters away by this time of year, if they haven't already left. The cygnets from Murdieston Dam in Greenock always seem reluctant to leave. Usually  the parents will pick on one cygnet at a time, chasing it constantly and keeping it off the water. When this happens we usually intervene and move the cygnet to a non breeding flock of swans. The parents will then start to pick on another cygnet, till all have gone and they have the breeding territory back to themselves.

6th  January   2012

When we first starting looking after injured wildlife, more than 40 years ago!, it was almost unheard of to get a hedgehog in the middle of winter. Nowadays they come in throughout the year. It was a small hedgehog that came in yesterday, 350 gm, but looking remarkable fit and healthy. Today a bigger hedgehog was found, wandering around in the daytime. This one weighs over 600gm, a good weight for this time of year. It is possible that its nest was washed out or blown away. Hedgehogs would have trouble finding any dry nesting material after all this rain.

Today we released the shag that came in a few days ago. It hesitated briefly before leaving the box, then it was off, a short flight to the sea and then swimming and diving.


4th  January   2012

Today we released the young roe buck that came in on the 1st. The lady who found the deer met us, showed us where she found the deer at the roadside, and took us along a track into the woods. The deer was given an antidote to the sedative that made it sleep for the journey, and it soon came round and was eager to go. We steadied him for a little while longer, and then he was off, taking his time, but jumping fallen branches with ease. The lady was delighted to see him go, and thanked us profusely for taking care of him. But it was the lady who spotted the deer at the roadside and persuaded her husband to turn the car. It was the husband who carried the deer quite a long way, uphill, to their house. Then they made phone calls, and were more than willing to bring the deer to Hessilhead. So this couple gave up a few hours on the evening of New Year's Day; and those few hours have given the deer its life back. So I say a big thank you to these caring people. I hope we meet lots more like them during the year.

Other casualties brought in today are a shag that flew into a conservatory, a buzzard found at the roadside, and a heron that flew right into a greenhouse, breaking several panes of glass.


3rd  January   2012

Well, there are a few unplanned changes at Hessilhead today, thanks to the weather. You will see from the pics below that we have quite a bit of damage. However, it could have been a lot worse. Two small aviaries are gone for good, there are roofs off sheds, and several trees down. Most amazing is the big shed on the top row. It was blown about 30" backwards. The step is no longer outside the door, but the 3 flights inside are intact. Only 4 young pigeons escaped, and they have been down for food in the ruins of their home. Hessilhead was cut off for a while, with trees down on all access roads. The power was off, but all has returned to normal!


We will be looking for help repairing and rebuilding. Give us a call if you'd like to help.

Meanwhile, the seals didn't see what all the fuss was about. Monty thought it best to sleep it out!


    2nd  January  2012

The first patient of the year, brought to Hessilhead yesterday morning, is a female sparrowhawk. This bird has been doing well during the winter, being a good weight, but misjudged flying across the road, and collided with a vehicle. She has a fractured wing, but there is a lot of swelling around the injury, making it difficult to know just how much damage there is. Meanwhile her wing is strapped in place, and she is receiving inflammatory and anti-biotic treatment. It was well into the evening when the next patient arrived, a young roe buck found at the roadside in Alloway. We usually have to collect deer, but the people who found this youngster were happy to put him into their car and bring him the centre. Not only that, he received Reiki treatment en route.  The buck was still badly concussed this morning, but later in the day he was up and active. It is a little too early to be sure, but it looks as if he should be back in the wild quite soon.

Today a seriously underweight guillemot was delivered from Girvan, and another surprise of the holiday season, a gyr falcon, or possibly a hybrid. This is not a wild bird, but a lost falconer's bird. It is wearing jesses and bells, radio-telemetry and numbered rings, so I am sure we will find the owner soon. The bird is not injured, just hungry. Quite a stunning bird.


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