Wild Blog – May/June 2019

The busy season is well under way now, so please excuse us for not updating the blog for a while – we’ve all been far too busy! There’s been so much going on, here are a few of the highlights since our last blog post.

 

Open Weekends

In May we had two very successful open weekends and were very pleased to see so many of you come along. We were blessed with decent weather for the most part, and everyone had a great time.
Our first ever Fun Dog Show took place over the Easter open weekend and was very popular! So much so that we did it all again later in the month at our next open weekend. We had fun with ferrets, classic cars, birds of prey and a great series of wildlife talks.

We would like to thank everyone who came along to support us, and also the ever hard-working staff and volunteers who turned out in full force to hold the events whilst keeping our busy rescue and rehab operation running smoothly.

 

Friends

We recently hosted a very special day for supporters who are part of our Friendship Circle. Friends who attended were given a more in-depth look into Secret World, including a behind the scenes tour of the site and time to chat to staff and volunteers over a lovely cream tea.

If you’d like to become part of our Friendship circle, you can find out more here.

 

Orphans growing well

Since our last post, we have had lots of orphaned animals admitted to us. From blackbirds to badgers, we do all we can for them. We give them the care and rearing they need and get them back to the wild as soon as possible.

Many of our young birds have already fledged the nest and been released, though more come in every day. Our hospital rooms are now alive with the sound of baby birds calling for food. Several groups of young rabbits have also been successfully reared and released.

Our larger animals however will be with us a while longer. We now have three groups of badger cubs and several groups of fox cubs, who are currently going through our veterinary protocol which includes several tests and vaccinations. All are doing well so far and are very boisterous and playful as you might expect!

We also have a few tawny owlets who are growing well and gradually beginning to develop their adult feathers. All these will go for release later in the year at the time they would naturally disperse from their parents’ territory.

 

Lots of hungry mouths

At the time of writing we have over 300 animals in our care, all of whom need plenty of feeding to recover and grow ready for their return to the wild. This puts quite a strain on our resources, and donations of some of the things we need to help these animals are always very much appreciated. If you’d like to help us out with this, you can have a look at our Amazon wishlist (remember to use Amazon Smile as they donate a small amount to a charity of your choice!).

Fun at the festivals

Secret World popped up at the Festival of Nature in both Bath and Bristol over the past few weeks. Did you see us?

It was a pleasure to meet so many people who were keen to support our work, including many who hadn’t heard of us before. Our founder Pauline gave a talk at the Bristol Festival of Nature, sharing some stories of the animals we have helped over the years.

We’ll be hoping to pop up at more events like this soon. If you have an event planned and you’d like us to be there, please do get in touch.

 

Upcoming events

Talk by Lloyd and Rose Buck
25th November

Lloyd and Rose Buck have many years experience in training birds and have worked on numerous filming and other projects. Lloyd and Rose will be talking about their lives with birds with plenty of stories along the way, and even some avian visitors.

Can you help?

Our May open weekend is nearly upon us, and we need your help!

We are looking for people to help out with manning stalls, prepping and selling food, and helping with car parking. Find out more here.

 

Wild Blog – April 2019

Over the past few weeks, Secret World has become gradually busier as new orphans come through our door every day. On top of tending the other casualties which come to us, as well as preparing for our upcoming events, our staff and volunteers have been working extremely hard as always. Here are a few highlights of recent weeks.

Jak on arrival

 

Badger cubs have arrived

We have our first badger cubs of the year. The first came from Cornwall, where he was initially reared by animal rescuer Bob who runs Cornwall Badger Rescue. Bob named the cub Jak, and having bottle fed him from just a few days old, he has come to continue his rearing and rehabilitation with us at Secret World.

Jak has since been joined by a second, smaller cub who came to us from Vale Wildlife Rescue in Worcestershire. Named Pickle, he and Jak have been introduced to one another so that they can grow up with another of their species. This is important for their development, and reduces the likelihood that they will become habituated with humans.

 

A flood of foxes

We mentioned in our last blog update that we had our first two fox cubs of the year. That number has since increased and we now have seven of them who will be spending the next few months with us. Over that time they will live as a group, growing and learning together, before their eventual release later in the year.

Volunteer Cindy and animal carers Katie and Sarah with three of the cubs during their check up

These cubs are with us having come from a range of unfortunate circumstances, but wherever possible we try to reunite cubs with their mother. We were recently able to do just that, with an impressive litter of seven cubs which were found when some shipping containers were being moved. After a quick check up at Secret World (see picture above), they were taken back to where they were found by a volunteer who sat and watched from a distance. Thankfully the mother did come back and carried each cub away to a new place of safety.

 

 

Baby bird season begins

In the week when troubles facing nesting birds hit the headlines across the country, two baby blackbirds were brought to us after their nest site was disturbed. Inevitably, these were the first of many and we now have chicks of several species, growing in size and number by the day.

 

Otters on the move

After over a year in our care, our two young otters have made the next and penultimate step towards their return to the wild. Following months of surveying for a suitable release site, our release manager Jamie and a team of volunteers set up a release enclosure in situ where the otters can get used to life in their new home.
Assuming they don’t make their own way out, once they’ve spent a few weeks in their release enclosure the fence will be removed and they are free to go. We are grateful to the landowner for providing food and water for them throughout this process.

One of the otters peering out at her release pen

All change in the charity shop

Did you know we have a charity shop in Burnham-on-sea? We recently closed for a week of refurbishment, and what a week it was. The community came together as a group of students from Weston College joined our staff and volunteers to redecorate the entire shop. We are very grateful to everyone who helped out, and are looking forward to seeing more visitors to the shop over the coming months.

If you’ve not been before, it’s easy to find and not far from the seafront on Victoria Street TA8 1AW.

 

Martin’s Wild Life

On Thursday 4th April, our patron Martin Hughes-Games spent the evening with us in Bridgwater, telling the audience all about his life and career, and providing an insight into a day behind the scenes of Springwatch. On top of the very entertaining stories and videos he had to share, Martin also took the time to meet guests and sign his new book. All proceeds from the event go to Secret World and we would like to say a massive thank you to Martin and everyone else who came along. It was a wonderful night and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Smile for us

You can get Martin’s new book, A Wild Life, from Amazon. In fact, if ever you shop on Amazon, you could be helping us out in the process. By logging in to smile.amazon.co.uk and choosing Secret World Wildlife Rescue as your charity, we will receive a donation from every purchase you make. It’s very simple to do and it all adds up!

 

Upcoming events
Easter Open Days
10am – 4pm, Saturday 20th – Monday 22nd April

Join us for some family fun at Secret World this Easter weekend. You can meet our residents and learn their stories, hear fascinating talks about the animals we help and join in with plenty of games and activities in a beautiful setting. You can also explore our market stalls and enjoy a tasty BBQ! We’d love to see you there

On the Saturday of our Easter open weekend we are hosting our first ever fun dog show. There are several classes to enter, and it should be lots of fun! Find out more below.

 

Wild Blog – March 2019

Spring begins this week and the orphan season is getting underway – albeit slowly. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen some interesting cases, including our first cubs of the year, and some happy returns to the wild.

 

 

 

Fox cub, Rowan, having a milk feed.

First fox cubs

Our first orphan of the year was a fox cub who was found in a hay barn. Having searched for siblings or parents to no avail, he was brought into us. Now known as Rowan, he weighed just 74g on arrival but has been feeding well and is now well over 500g. He no longer requires bottle feeding and is able to tuck into his meaty mash quite happily.

A week later we had a second fox cub admitted at just a few days old. With eyes still closed the cub weighed 150g but is doing well with the help of animal carer Jade, who has named the cub Willow.

 

 

Nearly time to go

Remember the otter cub who came into us around Valentine’s Day last year? She was named Amore, and has spent much of the year since in our pre-release otter pen with her companion who was admitted at a similar age. Together they have been running and playing, growing and building strength and often making a mess of their pen! A year on, it’s nearly time for them to go. Our release team will soon be constructing a release pen for them at a carefully selected site. The otters leave Secret World and move to the site soon after, and spend a few weeks in the release pen while they adjust to life in the wild. We will continue to feed them during this time, and for some time afterwards when the fence comes down and they are free to go.

We’ll be sure to share the story of their release so keep an eye on our social media.

 

Two young rabbits going back to the wild.

Rearing of rabbits

 

Thanks to a little biological trick known as induced ovulation, rabbits are able to breed at any time of year. This means that though there are many natural predators of rabbits in Britain, as a species they are able to bounce back quickly and colonise new areas, whenever conditions are suitable. It also means that we may be dealing with orphaned baby rabbits at any time. At the moment we have several rabbits being reared on site, whilst some older ones recently went for release.

Like all our orphans, rabbits undergo a soft release and are moved to the release site in a purpose built box with food, water and bedding to aid their transition into the wild.

 

 

Swan way or another

Volunteers Graeme and Chris caught up with two swans who are ready to go back to the wild after a short stay with us. It’s important to be gentle when handling all animals, and experienced volunteer Graeme is more than happy to share his skills with others. Once caught, swans are placed in specially made swan wraps which protect their wings in transit. Ikea bags make carrying them more comfortable for us and the swans.

Volunteers Chris and Graeme sit a swan into a swan wrap. Holding the neck gently keeps the swan still whilst the swan wrap is applied to protect the wings while being transported. In the background, an Ikea bag waits patiently.

 

Building up bats

In the UK most bat species hibernate through the colder months of the year. Like any hibernating animal they need to be a decent weight before they enter hibernation or they won’t survive the winter. Several bats who came into us last autumn failed to get up to a suitable condition in time for release before the temperatures dropped. Having spent the winter with us, three pipistrelles and two brown long-eared bats will soon be heading for release. Before that however they need to build up their flight muscles so will be moving to the facilities at RSPCA West Hatch before they go back to the wild.

Litter in our environment poses a direct hazard to wildlife.

 

 

 

Global Recycling Day

March 18th is Global Recycling Day.
At Secret World we recognise the importance of reducing waste whilst reusing and recycling what we can. We often see first hand some of the damage that discarded waste can do.
There’s plenty you can do to help, from recycling at home to encouraging your local council to improve their waste management schemes.

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming events

 

A Wild Life by Martin Hughes-Games
7:30pm – 9:30pm, Thursday 4th April

Naturalist, author, TV presenter and patron of Secret World, Martin Hughes-Games will be giving a talk at the MacMillan Theatre in Bridgwater on the 4th April. Martin will be talking about his life and career so far, including some highlights from working on BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch. All proceeds from the event will be going straight to Secret World to support the work that we do. Some tickets are still available and can be bought here.

 

Easter Open Days
10am – 4pm, Saturday 20th – Monday 22nd April

Join us for some family fun at Secret World this Easter weekend. You can meet our residents and learn their stories, hear fascinating talks about the animals we help and join in with plenty of games and activities in a beautiful setting. You can also explore our market stalls and enjoy a tasty BBQ! We’d love to see you there

A Second Chance for Wildlife

Dear Friend

 

A Second Chance for Wildlife

In another couple of months Secret World will be buzzing with the arrival of the orphan season, from baby birds needing to be fed every hour during daylight to, even more tiring, baby mammals that need regular feeds through the night as well!

However, our Wildlife Release Manager, Jamie is already busy as it’s his job to find new homes for our orphans. Adult animals always go back to where they came from but orphans would naturally have to find new territories. Can you help us ensure that there will be homes ready for the orphans? Can you help us keep Jamie on the road with the costs of running our 4 x 4 animal ambulance? We also need the right equipment, such as catching nets, badger cages or wood and netting which is necessary to build new temporary pens.

 

Jamie’s work starts months before the animals arrive at Secret World because release sites for deer, foxes, badgers and otters have to be surveyed and prepared. This is done during the winter months when all the vegetation has died back and it is possible to see tracks and signs of animals that live within the territory. For badgers, this is really important as we cannot release them where other badgers are already living.. It may be that the site is suitable for badgers but it doesn’t contain a disused badger sett or old rabbit warren that the badgers can dig out to make their new home. If this is the case then an artificial sett needs to be created by the Secret World release team and allowed to mature through the summer months, ready to be a suitable home when it is needed in the autumn.

 In the summer and the autumn we need to have temporary aviaries and enclosures in the release locations to move casualties out to once they are in good condition, to enable them to become fit and ready for release. Without these temporary release pens, it means that we would soon  become full on our site and would be unable to take in any further injured or orphaned animal admissions. Also, extra costs for feeding and care are incurred when animals stay on site longer than necessary, so it’s really important to have release sites ready early in the year

  Once ready for release back into the wild, we have to create temporary ‘soft release’ enclosures for foxes and deer to enable them to get used to their new environment before they are given their freedom. Once fully released, they also know that they can return to these enclosures for food that is supplied by Secret World or the landowner until they become self-sufficient. Similarly, pop up aviaries are used as temporary ‘soft release’ enclosures for garden birds and birds of prey. These fold-down to be transported  to the release site, but we always need more of these to ensure birds are released  as quickly as possible. 

 

 

We have found from post release monitoring that this kind of ‘soft release’ is the most successful way of returning our casualties to the wild. It is a safer way of giving them second chance. Please can you help us prepare safe homes for all our orphans this coming year?

 

With best wishes

 

 

 

 

 

Pauline Kidner

Charity Founder and Advisor

P.S. If you are able to donate £1000 and would like to speak  to me personally about how this money would  be used please telephone 01278 786701. . If you believe you may have suitable land for a release of orphans, please let Jamie know on 07488589959

 

 

Wild Blog – February 2019

The winter seems to be finally drawing to a close, and spring is nearly here. The weather is warming up, and as breeding season gets underway for much of our British wildlife, we are awaiting the arrival of our first orphans any day. These last few weeks have been interesting and not without their ups and downs.

Zazoo was a beloved member of our Secret World family and will be missed dearly.

Farewell to a friend 

Though there are several positive stories to be told and happy endings for some lucky animals, we began the week in mourning as we said goodbye to our resident barn owl, Zazoo.

Zazoo had lived with us at Secret World for many years, having been bought as a child’s pet. They soon realised what a nuisance a barn owl can be, calling all night and attracting wild owls from nearby who also made a racket, depriving the neighbourhood of sleep. So he came to live with us, and there he stayed. Since then he has been an ambassador for Secret World and the work that we do, regularly visiting schools and meeting the public across the south west, raising money, awareness and plenty of smiles wherever he went. Zazoo was 18 years old, and with old age came health issues which finally got the better of him. We were very sad to see him go, and he will be dearly missed.

Roads and recoveries

Nevertheless, our work continues, and we were pleased to be able to return three handsome swans back to the wild. One of them had come into us having crash landed into a road. This often happens in wet conditions as a swan may mistake a wet road surface for a body of water and attempt to land as they would on a lake or a river. Thankfully this one was able to make a full recovery and hopefully won’t make the same mistake again!

Roads can be an issue for much of our wildlife, particularly at this time of year when there is still a lot of traffic on the roads when night falls. A few weeks ago a badger came into us which had been hit by a car, and despite our best efforts it sadly didn’t make it. We also attended a roe deer by the roadside following a collision with a passing car. Unfortunately, it had suffered quite severe damage to its rear end and was unlikely to recover. Deer being very fragile animals, the decision was made to put it to sleep. We would like to thank Avon & Somerset Police for their help with this case.

What many people don’t realise is that deer often lose their sight following a trauma such as a road accident. The blindness is only temporary and their eyesight should return within a few days. At Secret World, we have facilities tailored to accommodate this and our deer pens have padded walls to protect the deer from further injury, as they often panic when their sight returns and they see their new surroundings for the first time.

It’s important to keep an eye out for animals by the roadside. Occasionally, an animal that looks dead may still be alive and could be in urgent need of help. A badger curled up by the side of the road, for example, may be seriously injured and suffering. If you are able to, it’s often worth checking. If you do find an animal which needs help, you can always give us a call.

 

Caring for British Wildlife conference 2019

This month we held our first ever annual conference, all about caring for British wildlife in the wild and in rescue centres like ours. The weekend was a huge success with some great talks and discussions, and we’d like to thank everyone involved for making the conference what it was. You can find out more about how it went on our Twitter feed (@SWWR) or by searching for #SWWRconference2019.

Staff and speakers from the first day of our conference including our founder Pauline Kidner, CEO Lesley Browne and scientific advisor Liz Mullineaux.

 Upcoming events

 

A Wild Life by Martin Hughes-Games
7:30pm – 9:30pm, Thursday 4th April

Naturalist, author, TV presenter and patron of Secret World, Martin Hughes-Games will be giving a talk at the MacMillan Theatre in Bridgwater on the 4th April. Martin will be talking about his life and career so far, including some highlights from working on BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch. All proceeds from the event will be going straight to Secret World to support the work that we do. Some tickets are still available and can be bought here.

 

Easter Open Days
10am – 4pm, Saturday 20th – Monday 22nd April

Join us for some family fun at Secret World this Easter weekend. You can meet our residents and learn their stories, hear fascinating talks about the animals we help and join in with plenty of games and activities in a beautiful setting. You can also explore our market stalls and enjoy a tasty BBQ! We’d love to see you there.

 

 

 

 

 

Charity Shop Volunteers Required

Would you like to help raise funds for Secret World?

We are currently looking for volunteers to help out at our Charity Shop in Burnham-on-Sea. Various shifts required and training provided.

 

The role will involve merchandising and displays, operating the till and assisting customers with purchases.

If you have an interest in retail and are a good communicator we would love to hear from you.

 

Please visit https://www.secretworld.org/volunteer/ to download an application form or call 01278 768703 to speak to Clare Davies.

 

 

Wild Blog – Part 26 (January 2019)

Happy new year!

Now that the dust has settled after the festive period, we are reflecting on 2018 and planning the year ahead. Last year was certainly an eventful one. Several periods of extreme weather, from snow in March to a very hot summer, made life quite difficult for us and many of the animals admitted. Throughout the year we had over 5000 animals through our doors, and we’ll likely see a similar number in 2019.

Too small to hibernate.

 

Though we receive fewer admissions through the winter, we never close our doors and our hard-working staff and volunteers were here throughout the Christmas season. Animals find themselves in need all year round and we endeavour to be there for them always. One individual who particularly caught our attention recently was an unusually small hedgehog. Known as little Harriet by our carers, she was found foraging desperately for food when she should have been hibernating and came into us weighing just over 200g. Thankfully she is safe and warm at Secret World, and while many of us are trying to shed a few pounds after the Christmas period, we are pleased that little Harriet is gaining weight nicely.

 

 

As you may have heard already, towards the end of December seven of our staff and volunteers travelled to Lyme Regis and braved the cold waters for a swim to raise money for the work we do. Even our founder, Pauline Kidner, went in and managed to fall flat on her face, which perhaps increased the amount of donations and sympathy she received!  They raised over £1000 and we are very grateful to them and to all who donated or came out to support us.

We will be making every effort to raise funds this year so look out for our open days and other events. We would love to see you. If you’d like to raise money in your own way, please do get in touch. Whether doing a sponsored run or hosting a coffee morning, we would love to see what you can do to help Secret World this year.

Keep an eye on this blog as we’ll hopefully be posting more regularly to keep you up to date with everything happening at Secret World and how you can get involved.