Tawny owl set to become a mascot

Further to my write up last week regarding the lead poisoning incident being investigated by The Environment Agency, RSPCA, English Nature, and the police at Chester le Street, when I explained we were able to do nothing to help, now we are able to do something.

Sunday, 8th March 2015, 11:15 am

We have received, via the RSPCA, two swans recovering from lead poisoning. They have been treated by vets in Morpeth and have come up to us to continue their recovery. They are both poor looking birds but have now started eating a bit more and although it may take quite a long time we hope they will eventually regain full health.

To give an indication of the lead levels in the swans, the normal level for lead in the blood is 0-1.21 umol/l. One of the birds from this incident with us now had a level of 15.56 umol/l. This shows the seriousness of this incident which has already killed at least 22 swans. David will take blood tests to see how she is progressing.

Another swan from Sunderland not connected to this horrible incident came in with lead levels of 1.94 umol/l on January 24. After treatment, blood results last week showed the level was down to 1.0 umol/l and is now ready to be released.

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This week we heard that a former Secretary to the trust had died. Jean Curtis (our vice chairman’s mother) was a very active member helping to fund raise for us until recently. She wrote a musical about the wildlife on the river which was staged at The Maltings a few years ago. I remember when she opened her garden to help funds, we were amazed how much was crammed intom it. A lovely lady, our thoughts are with her family.

Another death that I have only just been made aware of is that of Eric Gray who was a former chairman of the Trust. He died in January and our condolences go to his family.

There seems to be much doom and gloom this week that I thought I would lighten things up a bit with the photograph this week which shows our once blind and brain damaged Tawny Owl.

This is the one that when he arrived he was totally blind and was unable to feed himself. We hand fed him twice each day to begin with but now he is able to feed himself, he can see a little but we are not sure how much.

The vet says his eyes are clear so the damage must be to the nerves in his head. These may repair in time I suppose.

All the volunteers love him as he sits happily on the table while we clean his cage. We then ‘encourage’ him to fly a few feet back to his cage where he pounces on his daily chick. He seems very happy with his situation. He has learnt to take a bath and keep himself clean so he is making great strides.

We don’t think he will ever recover enough to be released but when we discussed this all the volunteers said we should not put him to sleep so we are having anklets made for him so we can fly him. All the volunteers are so fond of him we decided he will become a mascot for the Trust.