What a year we have had! Since we started the rescue in May 2020 we have rescued and rehabilitated a variety of species from bats to birds, to wood mice to rabbits.
We would like to share with you the numbers of rescues we have had in and some of our most successful rescue stories and experiences from our volunteers.
Below is our latest rescue stats, we have rescued a total of 124 animals this year, of that number over 50% have been successfully released back into the wild.
The most common species that we have rescued this year have been the common pipistrelle bat, herring gulls, blackbirds, wood mice and slow worms. The most common reason for their admission has been either from cat attacks or baby animals separated from their parents. Cat attacks are one of the most common reasons for wild animals to be admitted into rescues so if you are able to keep your cat indoors at dusk and dawn, during the night or if you are able to pop a bell collar on them then this may help reduce the number of casualties that we get in every year.
Now we have a big team of volunteers that we are training up ready for the busy season, we are looking forward to seeing how many more animals we can help in 2021.
Here are a few rescue stories written by our volunteers about some of their most memorable rescues and experiences with SWR:
Woody the Wood Pigeon by Jude Piper
Woody came to me from a neighbour who had found him being taunted by a group of school children.
Luckily she stopped them and took him home to safety as the parents were nowhere to be seen, and then she called me.
He was still quite small with lots of his yellow baby feathers and after watching him for a short while it became apparent that he wasn’t self feeding so I had to learn to feed him asap.
I started him off on bottle feeds (these consisted of chick crumb fed in a small bottle with a fabric lid designed to mimic his mum’s crop) and I also hand fed him fresh peas and also chick peas as he got bigger.
He fed like this for a couple of weeks, and I started to feel like a new mum with my life revolving around his next feed!
Then one day he decided to eat a couple of peas himself from the bowl I had on my lap - I could have cried I was so proud!
After that there was no stopping him, and he was growing really well, but I needed to get him used to being a wild pigeon rather than a hand fed one, so I borrowed Gellert the wood pigeon from my friend who also rehabs pigeons and felt he needed a friend.
Once he was learning to fly properly they both went back to my friend as she had an aviary, and about two weeks later we did a soft release of them both, and they live happily in the wild now near her home, although she tells me they do pop back everyday for a snack still as she feeds the birds on the common outside her house.
Slow worm Rescue and Rehabilitation by Naomi Sims
Another interesting species we had in this year was quite a few slow worms!
These mysterious and protected species are actually lizards without legs and quite often thrive in garden habitats.
We had four in that unfortunately fell prey to neighbourhood cats, although they often drop their tails to escape and are very resilient, these four needed some extra help and antibiotics to recover from body wounds.
We sought advice from local reptile specialists, other wildlife rescue charities and veterinary staff to give them the best care and all were released back where they were found, to return to their families.
Vito the Blackbird Fledgling by Bethany Lewis
In mid June we took a call from a lady in Bristol who had found a blackbird nest that had been taken down by a cat. Sadly only one of the three chicks had survived this attack.
Before getting in contact with SWR the finder had a go at caring for the remaining blackbird fledgling herself for a couple of days. Although the chick was well looked after, it is incredibly important that you always contact a wildlife rescue whenever you find any injured or young wildlife to avoid any further damage being done. Once the finder realised the chick would need more specialised care she gave SWR a call and arranged to drop off with wildlife carer Beth.
From here the blackbird chick, now named Vito, was checked over and cared for until she was able to fly well enough to escape any predators.
Vito was released back into the wild after nearly three weeks of being with Beth where she will hopefully go on to have her own chicks next spring.
Willow the Flypaper Survivor by Charley Bird
In November 2020, our Wildlife Rescue Co-ordinator Ruth alerted us to a call that had come in about a bat that had become stuck to flypaper. The finders had found a fly infestation in their loft and had hung up long sticky strips of flypaper in an attempt to rid themselves of the insects. Having gone into their loft to check on progress, they discovered a bat had become stuck on one of the strips.
Once delivered to us, I was able to identify that bat as a female brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus). After letting the finder know this, he informed me that he lived in a semi-detached house, with a roost of these bats inhabiting the neighbouring loft. The bat appeared to have squeezed herself through a small hole separating the lofts,
presumably in an attempt to feed on the flies infesting the finder’s attic!
We had requested that the finders did not remove the bat from the flypaper themselves. Removing bats from flypaper without causing damage is an extremely delicate process which should only be undertaken by trained individuals with the necessary knowledge and equipment available to them. Luckily, this bat had gotten away with only a few small holes in her wing membranes and minor tearing along the bottom of her left wing. We named the little bat “Willow”.
Nai and I began the long process of removing the flypaper glue from Willow’s body right away. This involved skilled handling, a lot of environmentally friendly soapy water, oil and other specialist equipment. We also orally administered a solution to prevent insecticide poisoning, should this have been present on the flypaper. To prevent Willow developing a chill, we carried out semi-regular washing and drying over the next three days, and eventually, she began to look like a normal bat again. During her time with us she maintained a healthy appetite and a cheeky character.
Willow is currently undergoing the over-wintering process with Ellie, soon to be flight-trained and released in Spring 2021!
We kindly ask everyone to find alternative fly-control methods to flypaper.
It is a particular danger to brown long-eared bats, who catch larger prey by “gleaning” them off of surfaces such as leaves. When these bats see moths and flies stuck on flypaper, they attempt to glean them and eat them and end up getting stuck themselves. This is even more perilous if the flypaper contains insecticides, as the bats ingest this through the glue when trying to free themselves and become poisoned as a result.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to Mike at Hereford Bat Rescue for advising and assuring us through the process of cleaning and caring for Willow, and for his consistent support, compassion and knowledge!
Leading the Bat Flight Cage Project by Stuart Sims
My main involvement with Severn Wildlife Rescue this year has been leading the project alongside Ellie to build our bat flight cage.
This has been a really exciting experience not only for me personally (I love building things!) but also for the group, getting our own flight cage set up within our first year.
The group quickly raised the funds needed and after exploring a few options, we were kindly offered to buy the existing flight cage of Frome Bat Care, whom Ellie had volunteered with previously.
It was purpose built, huge, and had a fantastic history of rehabilitating a range of bat species for release. Perfect!
We dismantled it with the help of Nai, Pete and Brian, and got it up to Dean Farm who were wonderful enough to offer us some land to keep it on.
We used almost our entire pool of volunteers and friends to get the ground ready (a particularly arduous task), repair and treat the timber, move it up to the site, and rebuild it.
Lockdowns and bad weather added a few logistical problems, but we managed to get it up within only a few weekends. Sadly due to the delays it wasn't ready for this year's cohort of pups to release, but it will be ready and waiting for them when the weather warms up next year, and for next seasons' babies.
A Thank you from Eden (Pidge Inn)
I'd like to say a massive thank you to Fernlea Vets.
A pigeon was found collapsed and covered in diarrhoea at Royal United Hospital in Bath.
The pigeon was cared for over a fortnight by this lovely vet's before being taken to Pidge Inn. Jane one of their employees, dropped him/her off to me and I then spent an hour health checking the little one. The pigeon is lovely, quiet and gaining in confidence. A week later, Jane received a rather desperate text from me as a Wood Pigeon called Angel was in trouble and sadly was put to sleep. The response from this practice was brilliant and highly appreciated by myself.
Only by working together can we make a difference!