SWAN notes

FOR those of you who don’t like social networking sites, here is a selection of items that have appeared on our Facebook page. These were written by Barrie so where it says “I” it is Barrie.

29 September - Northumbria Police phoned me this afternoon. A lady was at Berwick police station with a guillemot in her car boot. I asked them to tell her I would meet her at the swan shed in quarter of an hour. She got there before me and I put the bird in a cage to await examination by the vet. While waiting for the vet, John arrived with a grey lag goose that had a massive rip in its neck. David, Kay and Barbara then turned up to do the afternoon work shift. Anne and I left them feeding the tawny owl which seemed to have gone off its food. It’s a time consuming job, hand feeding wildlife.

4 October - Just to balance the Northumbria Police call the other day I got a call from Lothian and Borders police this morning. “We’ve got seven swans on the main road in Greenlaw, can you assist?” A quick call to see if Donnie could help and we set off. Two police vehicles, two police officers and a traffic warden in attendance with three members of the public. They had herded the immature swans into a garden and were standing in a circle round them. I walked quietly up to the swans, bent down and picked one up. The first one is always the easiest. Popped it into the cage in the back of a police van and went back for another one. Slight change of plan; I asked the human wall to slowly herd the swans into a corner and then Donnie and I collected the rest of the family. We got five in the van and two in my car boot. I decided that as they were getting bullied by dad, they would be better off well away from Greenlaw or they would just end up back on the road. All seven birds were released on the Tweed estuary and seemed to settle in quite nicely.

14 October - Another email, this time about a swan on a pavement in Spittal and next to a fairly busy road. Someone has been feeding the bird, encouraging it to stay there instead of making its way back to the estuary. By the time I saw the email, the lady who wrote it had managed to contact our vet, David Rollo, and he had asked John to investigate. The swan is now in our care “looking a bit bewildered”. After it is certain it will be fit to release we will let it go. Please, if you see a swan away from the river, DO NOT FEED it. It will be much safer finding natural food in the water.

15 October - An email enquiry from a lady who has set up a new wild bird hospital in Manchester wanting to know where to get swan bags and other rescue equipment. I phoned an old acquaintance bird watcher and ended up inviting him up to look around our premises and confirm my identification of a great crested grebe that had been brought up to us by the RSPCA.

These are just a few examples of the little stories that appear on our Facebook page. We have also recently started a Twitter account so you can now follow @swantrust.

GRAEME WILSON