The Wild Blog, Part 19

This week has seen a special visitor to Secret World in the form of a water vole. It was exciting for us, as these rare creatures are seen in decreasing numbers due to habitat degradation. This lucky Vole, who we have called Walter, had found himself washed out to sea. Incredibly, he managed to find his way back to shore. Having been given a full check over and some rest in his very own swimming pool, Walter has now been released back in to the wild. We were sad to see him go, but glad that he has been given a second chance back in his natural habitat.

On a slightly less pleasant note, a buzzard was brought in by our response driver Cindy after getting stuck in a slurry pit at West Hunstspill Sewage Treatment Works. The very smelly bird was given a wash straight away! Once he was dry and feeding he was placed in an aviary exclusion pen to be given the best chance of recovery and to build up muscle. He is now looking majestic and is set to be released soon. Laura Benfield, who is our head of animal care, said “It is likely that the buzzard was after a small mammal running over the crust of the effluent material, but his weight made him sink in and he was unable to get out”.

Have you been following our work and wondered how you could help us? One way is by becoming a volunteer response driver. This crucial and exciting role is a vital link in the chain of getting sick and injured animals the help they need. We need people to pick up injured animals and bring them to us, and also to assist in releasing animals once they have recovered. You can put your name down for hours to suit your availability. If this sounds like something you are interested in then you can find out more on the volunteer section of the website.

The Wild Blog, Part 18

The Wild and Deadly Show

There were lots of smiles (and a few scared faces – mostly from the parents) onsite this week as we held our first Wild and Deadly Wednesday of the Summer! Nick Wadham hosted his special Wild and Deadly show, where he showcased a variety of creepy crawlies. A particular highlight (for the kids at least) was when they got to nominate their parents to hold the tarantula! We also ran some great craft activities, and visitors had the chance to see our resident animals, including the birds of prey, foxes and badgers. If you missed it, and think that this sounds right up your street, come along on the 15th or 22nd August, 12 – 4pm. It’s £4 for adults and £2 for children, and promises to be a fun afternoon out for all ages!

Sweetpea and Daffodil

At the moment we have 3 lovely fawns onsite: Sweetpea, Daffodil and Jasmin, who are being looked after in our fawn paddock. Sweetpea is a red deer, who was found at the side of the road. She had stomach problems and animal carers were concerned about her sight. After treatment and being bottle fed Sweetpea improved, and was put in the fawn paddock with Daffodil, a fallow deer that had been hit by a car. Daffodil had head, neck and leg wounds, and when found it was touch and go whether he would survive. However he surprised staff with his recovery and fight to survive. The last deer, Jasmin, a roe, was found lying in a ditch at the side of the road. Fawn is usually the term we use for baby deer but in fact the only one that is truly a fawn is the fallow. The Red is called a calf and a roe is called a kid – however fawn is the term usually used as the accepted name for a baby deer.

These young deer will remain with us until the autumn where they will be taken to a release site monitored by the land owner. This will the responsibility of Jamie Kingscott, who is the Wildlife Release Manager at Secret World. We are always looking for release sites for many different species so if you have land that may be useful, please ring Jamie on 01278 783250 or email Jamie.Kingscott@secretworld.org.

This weekend our resident birds of prey will be out in Weston-super-Mare, on the Grand Pier. Why not pop along and meet them. You will be able to chat to our bird handlers all about them, and find out how they came to be at Secret World. Each owl has an interesting story to tell!

The Wild Blog, part 17

We have been engaging with lots of our younger supporters this week, both on and off site. This is so important to us, as these children are the future, and by teaching them to appreciate and look after wildlife we are protecting it for years to come.  We had two well attended Wild Academy sessions, focusing on birds of prey, and reptiles and amphibians. Our Wild Academy workshops encourage children to find out about the natural world around them through games, crafts and outdoor activities. The children who attended certainly seemed to enjoy themselves! We also attended an organised play day in Apex Park, where we made over 250 seed bombs with children!

The cygnets

This week we have had a lot of birds in, including two cygnets who were abandoned by their parents. The two tiny birds were found alone as their parents had flown away.  They were too small to fly as their wing feathers had not developed and they were unable to get off the ground.A member of the public found them, and delivered them to us, where their condition was assessed. Both birds were found to be in good health, just too young to be left out alone. They are now flourishing in one of our outside paddocks, where they will stay until they are stronger and their flight feathers have developed. Once this has happened a suitable release site will be found for them, one where there are other swans that they can join.

The tiny birds

Another happy story this week involved four tiny sparrows. We had a call from a member of the public who found three tiny sparrows who had recently hatched, and one cracked egg on the ground. The recent rain had destroyed their nest, leaving them to fall to the floor. They came in to us, where they were put into an incubator. The three birds were so tiny they were not expected to survive, but miraculously they did. In another twist of fate the cracked egg is now hatching, meaning the last bird will soon be joining its siblings. The sparrows are in our hospital room, where they are receiving round the clock care and hourly feeds. At this time of year our hospital rooms are full of tiny birds, who are all casualties of the weather. Many arrived during the hot spells, when they fell out of their nests due to the heat. Thanks to our dedicated animal care staff and volunteers who are caring for them all!

The Wild Blog, part 16

It has been very hot for the last few weeks, with the UK experiencing a heat wave. This has been especially hard for wildlife, and we have seen an increased amount of animals coming through our doors. The lack of rainfall has left many unable to keep cool or find food. Gulls in particular have been suffering, as hot surfaces and a lack of shade are causing many of the birds to be brought in with severe sunburn on their feet. We currently have 237 gulls on site, and that number could easily rise if this weather continues. This story has given us quite a bit of media coverage, and you may have seen us on Countryfile Diaries, ITV Westcountry or Points West.

To help the struggling wildlife the best thing you can do is to put fresh water out each day for animals and to consider feeding them until there is enough rain to enable them to forage for themselves. Both adults and young alike are struggling to find sufficient food and water so extra provisions at this time can be a life saver.

Ron Weasel

There was a happy ending for one of our more unusual animals this week. We received a call from a member of the public in Weston-super-Mare whose cat had caught a juvenile weasel. Luckily they were able to bring it in to our centre in Highbridge for assessment. The male weasel, who has been named Ron, had a number of puncture wounds caused by the cat’s teeth, and so animal carer Dan Bryant put it on a course of antibiotics to help them heal. Weasels are not animals we see often at Secret World. Since 2011 only 17 have come through our door needing help. It is not unusual for weasels to be caught by cats. However this situation is slightly unusual as cats usually go for weasels who are weak or injured as they are easier to catch. Ron was healthy and so he was probably caught because he is young and let his guard down. The cat must have been very brave, as Ron was a very feisty little fellow! After the antibiotics and a few days of rest Ron was soon up to full health and was released back into the wild.

Moss trapped in netting

Another success story this week was little Moss, a grass snake that got caught in netting in a garden in Berrow. One of our volunteer response drivers was dispatched to the scene and they managed to cut Moss free. He was brought in to our hospital room with some of the netting still tight around his body. Then began the delicate operation of removing the netting and animal carer Sarah Tingvoll used nail scissors to patiently cut him free. Once the netting had been removed Moss perked up immediately. While assessing him Sarah noticed that he had an old wound, which had caused his scales to become slightly dislodged. As a precaution he saw our vet from Quantock Veterinary Hospital. Grass snakes are one of just 3 of our native species of snakes. During this warm sunshine, they can be spotted basking in the sun near their favourite ponds.

 

Keep cool, and don’t forget that dish of water for the wildlife!

The Wild Blog, part 15

Story time for Zazoo

We had lots of young visitors on site this week for our Owlets session. Here at Secret World we believe in educating the younger generation, to inspire them to get outdoors and take an interest in nature. Owlets is our new under 5’s group, where our youngest supporters can learn more about wildlife and how to look after it. This week they were joined by a special guest, our barn owl Zazoo. He seemed to rather enjoy reading ‘The owl who was afraid of the dark’, and the children enjoyed learning more about him. Zazoo is one of our resident birds of prey, and goes out on talks in the community with our bird handlers. Like our other resident birds of prey he was bred in captivity and then came to us, so he cannot be released.

Otis recovering after his treatment

One casualty needing our help this week was Otis, a 3 week old tawny owl. He was found sitting at the bottom of a tree covered in flies. Our response driver Graeme went to his rescue, and when Otis arrived onsite animal carer Katie found that he was matted with fly eggs. After initial fluid therapy and painstakingly trying to remove the eggs without success, she decided that the only way to remove them thoroughly was with neat fairy liquid, a fine tooth brush and a shower. This worked brilliantly, however the poor little soul looked a sorry state! After sitting under a heat lamp for a while to dry out, he was transferred to an incubator overnight to keep warm. By morning he had returned to a fluffier state, and was eating well. Otis will stay with us until late summer when he will be released. In the meantime he will require lots of specialist food, a specialist eye test by the vet before he is released, and time in our pre-release flight pen to strengthen up his wings.

Our animal care staff and volunteers are being kept busy at the moment by the 74 corvids we currently have onsite. We have also had in 11 baby hoglets this week. Of those 7 are from the same litter, which is quite unusual!

The fundraising team have been busy planning for our Summer Party. This year the theme is Wildlife Wonders, and it takes place on Sunday August 26th and Monday August 27th. There will be fascinating talks about the animals we help, games and nature activities, stalls and face painting. We hope to see lots of you there, and are keeping our fingers crossed for a sunny day!

 

The Wild Blog, part 14

There’s been excitement onsite this week as we appeared in 3 episodes of Countryfile Diaries! The film crew spent 4 days with us a month ago and followed our work, from animal admissions through to the hospital rooms, rehabilitation and release. The stars of the show were definitely Fred and George, our badger cubs!  They charmed the film crews, and probably a lot of the people watching! Viewers also saw Marion, our tiny fox cub and her friends, lots of birds in our hospital room, and Henry the hedgehog going back to the wild. Did you watch the show? If not you can catch up on BBC iplayer, we are in episodes 2, 3 and 4.

Tiny hoglets

The first hoglets of 2018 arrived this week, and they really are tiny! The four of them were found in a garden crying for their mother, who hadn’t been seen for a long time. Ranging from 19.5 grams to 25 grams in weight  they will need feeding and nurturing until they get stronger.

Nevil

 

Our release manager Jamie and release coordinator Charlotte rushed to the aid of a trapped baby badger yesterday. He was taken to the vets as he was severely de-hydrated having been trapped all night crying out for help. We always have themes for naming our badger cubs, and this year a public vote chose the theme of Harry Potter characters. So this little cub has been called Nevil. Please send him your best wishes for a speedy recovery.

 

 

Back to the wild!

And finally we had another successful release this week, which is the reason we do what we do. This Canada goose was admitted after being hit by a golf ball on a local course. After pain relief and a stint of rest and rehabilitation, he was released back into the wild. On his return he was greeted by his mate and family. We do love a happy ending!

The Wild Blog, part 13

I never fail to be amazed at the generosity of the public! Here at Secret World we rely on people to support us, to enable us to care for the hundreds of animals each year that need our help. One thing that can be very expensive is feeding all our casualties. At the moment we have lots of fox and badger cubs on site. These require specialist puppy milk, and then when they are weaned they are fed puppy food. We put a request out to see if people could donate some tins, and were amazed by the response! This week alone we have received 384 tins and 624 pouches of puppy food, through our Amazon wish list. Thank you so much to everyone who donated, we are so grateful, and so are the animals! If you want to help us buying us something from our Amazon wish list is a quick and easy way to do so. You can see our wish list by visiting https://goo.gl/ppMw6A.

The baby heron

This week seems to be the week of Heron’s; as we had two arrive at our centre. One, a baby, had fallen out of its nest in Weston-super-Mare. On arrival he was assessed and found to be in shock, with no other obvious injuries, and was given fluids and weighed. Our animal carers then made the decision to transfer him to the RSPCA West Hatch centre in Taunton. In this case, the site is better suited for this young bird and the heron would be with others of its kind and be able to socialise. He was taken there the same day by one of our volunteer response drivers. It is important for us at Secret World to work closely with other animal centres, including RSPCA West Hatch, to ensure that the animals get the best treatment and rehabilitation support. Depending on capacity, where the expertise lies and appropriate facilities, animals are sometimes moved between wildlife centres in the interests of that individual animal and to give it the best chance of survival.

The trapped heron

The second heron had quite a traumatic story. The owners of a pond in Spaxton had been advised to protect their fishpond from a visiting heron by surrounding it with fishing line. However rather than discouraging the heron it had resulted in him becoming entangled and being unable to free himself. Our response driver Graeme managed to free it and transport it to Secret World, where our animal carer Dan worked to cut away the rest of the line. The heron was uninjured and will be released soon.

Finally we are ending this week with some exciting news. A few weeks ago we hosted a crew from Countryfile Diaries, who spent four days filming with us following casualty arrivals and the feeding of orphaned animals.  We feature in three episodes, which will be shown on Tuesday 29th May, Wednesday 30th May and Thursday 31st May, at 9:15am on BBC One.

The Wild Blog, part 12

It has been a busy week for admissions this week, with 172 animals coming to our centre for help. We are open 365 days a year to help British wildlife, and no matter how big or small they are Secret World is a place of safety for them. Of the 172 animals we have seen this week 45 were orphaned birds. These are placed in incubators in our hospital room, and keep staff very busy as they have to be fed every hour! It is always very loud in around feeding time, with all the baby birds chirping for their food!

One hedgehog who was caught in litter

 

 

We had a hedgehog bought in this week that had plastic round his neck. Plastic and other forms of rubbish is so dangerous to wildlife, and we see many instances where wildlife has suffered at the hands of people who have dropped litter.

Star

 

 

 

 

Shadow

Our lovely resident birds of prey have also been busy this week. These are birds that have been hand reared and are too dependent on humans to be released. They live onsite, and are ambassadors for our charity, visiting care homes and other places in the community. This week they went to Tudor Lodge residential home with Sheila and Sue, two of our bird handlers. Star, our tawny owl, and Shadow, our barn owl, also met children from Culverhill School who were on site for an educational visit. It is so lovely to see how much people enjoying meeting our birds, and we love giving people the chance to get up close to these beautiful animals. We have a new Facebook page for our resident birds, where you can learn all about them, and find out where they will be going in the community. Just search ‘Secret World’s Resident Birds of Prey’ on Facebook.

 

This week our team released 18 animals back to the wild, where they belong. This included a long eared bat, a swift, and a few hedgehogs. It is always a lovely feeling seeing these animals recover and get their freedom back. This is the reason we all do what we do!

 

 

The Wild Blog, part 11

As is always the way at this time of year Secret World is full of animals needing our help. Many of these are orphans who have been found alone, crying and hungry, with no sign of their mother. At the moment we have around 30 fox cubs and 7 badger cubs on site! This certainly keeps our animal carers busy, but there is nothing more rewarding than knowing you are helping to make a difference to these beautiful creatures, and eventually giving them a second chance back in the wild.

Harry and Houdini

We are very lucky here that we have a lot of dedicated people supporting us, not just those within our own charity. Members from Devon Badger Group went above and beyond to help two small foxes in need, ensuring they were bought to us for the care and attention they needed. The group found a lactating fox who had been shot, and they were concerned that there may be cubs starving. After going back that evening they found a small fox cub, who they tried to capture, but it escaped. The group set up a trap camera and found that there were actually two fox cubs, both in poor condition. They managed to capture one cub, and going the extra mile, they camped out for a week to capture the second. Both Harry and Houdini (as they have been named), are now safe with us, and are doing well.

 

Rodney the Rooster

We had an unusual animal arrive at our centre recently. We don’t usually accept domestic animals, instead focusing our attention on British wildlife, but when Rodney the Rooster turned up in need of help we couldn’t turn him away! He was found by a member of the public sheltering in a garden in Burnham, having narrowly escaped the unwelcome attention of a fox. After failed attempts to find his owner he was given to us to look after. We are now looking for a new home for him. Founder Pauline Kidner said: “We are hoping his owner may come forward or perhaps someone would like to give Rodney a new home. He really is rather majestic.”  If you can help call us on 01278 783250.

The injured gull

 

The best part of working at Secret World is the success stories, where we can see the real difference we make to these animals. This week we had a brilliant outcome when a juvenile gull, who had been caught by fishing hooks, was released. When the gull arrived at our centre it wasn’t looking good for him. The poor thing had three fishing hooks, one in its mouth, one in its foot and one in its wing! We managed to get the hooks from the wing and the foot out, but had to send the gull to our vets for them to remove the hook in its mouth. However this gull was a very determined thing, and made a great recovery. This week we were able to release him back into the wild, and it was so lovely to see him flying free, enjoying his freedom!

 

 

The Wild Blog, part 10

We are now well and truly into our busy Spring season, and we are seeing a lot of animals come through our doors. Our response drivers have been working hard to rescue and pick up sick and injured animals across our coverage area. Reception has been a hive of activity, with staff giving advice over the phone and coordinating recuses. And our dedicated animal carers have been bottle feeding orphans round the clock, while also caring for the other animals on site.

Marion feeding

 

One such orphan is Marion, a tiny two week old fox cub. She was found cowering by a shed in a garden, and was picked up by the home owners dog. Luckily she rescued her, and delivered her to us. When she arrived Marion was so young that her eyes were not yet open. Animal carer Dan has been bottle feeding her, and she is making a good recovery.

Fred and George

 

Two orphaned badger cubs also arrived this week. The pair were found 24 hours apart at an entrance of a badger sett, crying and calling for their mother. They were weak and close to starvation. At Secret World we like to have a theme when naming our orphaned badger cubs, and this year the theme is Harry Potter. So the obvious choice for our twin badger cubs was Fred and George, after the Weasley twins.

 

Pauline on BBC Somerset

We have had more radio interest as our charity founder and advisor Pauline appeared on a special show on BBC Somerset to mark their 30th birthday. We are proud of our connections with the local media, and they help us to promote what we do at the centre. It is also a good way to offer advice to members of the public on what to do if they find an injured animal. We enjoyed taking part in the show, and even received a piece of birthday cake!

This week we were delighted to welcome our patron Chris Sperring to the site. He gave a very interesting talk to staff and volunteers one lunchtime. Chris has wide experience of wildlife and conservation, and our team learnt a lot from his talk.

Finally, are you a budding photographer with a particular interest in nature? If so we have just the thing for you! Today we launch our photo competition, which will be judged by our patron Chris Packham. So get those cameras ready, and find out more details on the events section on our website.