Thursday, 22 December 2011

This fine pregnant badger was brutally baited and died of loss of blood and trauma on a riverside field close to home.
8 men with 13 dogs , shotguns and rifles were amazingly observed at the scene by the well known wildlife painter Robert Fuller.
He had the courage and presence of mind to photgraph them and call the police.
Sgt Paul Stepehenson arrested the men and spent the next 11 months putting together a well informed and precise case to put before the courts.

I visited the scene on the day after to help gather evidence and produce an expert witness report
for the court process.

We found this foetus torn from the pregnant sow scattered on the field of battle.

This week 7 of the men were convicted at Scarborough Magistrates Court of killing and baiting these animals.
Sentencing will be on 10th January 2012.

It was a harrowing eventful case both at the time and in court.
My grateful thanks to Robert Fuller for standing up for badgers and for being so the right man in the right place that day.
Also to Sgt Paul Stephenson of Malton Police for his diligence and determination to bring these low life's to court.
Thankyou to PC Jez Walmsley the Wildlife Liason Officer at Malton for his help and support throughout.
Also RSPCA Insp. Geoff Edmond, a good friend and supporter of wildlife and badgers in particular for his
expertise and support.
I buried the baited badgers yesterday in sloping woodland in thier home territory.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Late Barn Owls

These beautiful young Barn Owls were found cold and wet on the floor outside a stable.
They were dried out and are feeding well and have just started to fly.
They will be ready to go in mid November, but to release or not ?
Barn Owls had a rough winter and some of the breeding females were not in good enough condition to breed,
so had late broods.
 I have had more youngsters in that did not make it.Will have to wait and see what the waeather is like before I let them go.

This sow badger was found sleeping out in the rain in a back garden on the North York Moors. The kind householder rigged up a warm dry kennel and the badger moved in. She had been there a few days when I called to have a look at her. I took her over to Battleflatts Vets and Mark the vet  x rayed her . She was intact but had an abcess under an ear which needed antibiotics.She ate very well and remained quiet and dignified. After a week she perked up and I took her back. She moved at ease back on a badger path for home. The householder feeds these badgers and knows them well so she was so pleased to see her back.She has not returned to her kennel, but has been back for food.

Mute swan parents tell thier youngsters to clear off at this time of year and they arrive here bewildered and thin. 3 came in with a couple of days, one had been hit by a car standing on the road and had to be put to sleep. One had come from Middlesboro' and could not stand, she ate well and enjoyed the swan company and soon was on her feet.The other was found on the beach at Cayton with a blooded bill and just needed some time out. The adult white female was wondering away from water. She was moulting and could only walk not fly.They all did well and much conversations were heard in the swan pen.

I took them for ringing and release to North Duffield where they joined up with other non breeding birds. They were so pleased to be back in thier element.

A Little Grebe was found in the street in Bridlington unable to get up and go. This juvenile may be a Continental bird flown in tired and lost. The bird was not injured and was left to rest in a warm cupboard and enjoyed dabbling in fresh water overnight. She was released next day on a river where she paddling and dived out of sight.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Travelling Nightjar.

A specialist woodland bird was found on the deck of a freighter in the middle of the North Sea. The bird was exhausted and was kept safe until it docked at Hull 3 days later. The RSPCA were called and the bird was brought here. No one knew what it was and I was first told it was a small bird of prey.It turned out to be a this years juvenile Nightjar. The wild winds of the American hurricane must have blown this bird of course. Nightjar arrive here in the spring and breed in forest clearings feeding on flying moths and insects.They return to warmer climes in September.                         
She faired well and put on weight and flitted confidently round the kitchen. 
Here's my grandaughter Bella checking her out. She already has spatterhawk, badger and hare in her vocabulary , I'm suitably impressed of course ! The Nightjar was b.t.o. ringed and was ready for release. I took her to a mature mixed woodland with airy rides . She sat at ease on my out stretched hand before flitting off into the gloom of dusk.I hope she reaches the warm skies of Africa after her sea going adventures                      

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sparrowhawks, Kestrel and a Beautiful Badger.

Its been a Sparrowhawk fortnight, I've had 6 birds in.
1 had to be put to sleep, as she had a badly smashed wing but the rest all made it back.
This little male only weighed just over 100g. He was found in York unable to fly off .
He was a this years bird, as were the majority of the others ,they just hadn't got the hang of their independance.
Sparrowhawks can be tricky, they are so nervous and shy. I tube feed with critical care as soon as they arrive and leave them to settle in an They usually refuse to eat and have to be encouraged by tit bit feeding, trying not to stress them too much at the same time.All the birds were b.t.o. rung before release.
Its grand to see them go back.

A Kestrel was found in West Yorkshire with badly melted feathers, very strange and a mystery as to how it happened. He was brought here by the RSPCA. He was in good bodily condition and a flyer , just. He had no trouble with his breathing and his skin was not touched.
Birds moult thier feathers slowly so they can continue flying and feeding. This bird would not be able to hover as Kestrels do to catch food.
I took him for Andy Forsyth the vet to examine.He would have to be kept in an avairy for months until new moulted feathers come through or given medication to encourage moulting. We're 3 weeks into a 5 week regime of daily medication. He has remained wild and daily tolerates the handling . Fingers crossed that he can go out with new feathers soon.

A young sow badger was found concussed on a grassy verge in Grosmont early one morning.
She was dopey but looked intact and was collected by the RSPCA and taken to Battleflatts vets for assessment.
She came here for some r+r and laid down in the pen sleepy and unaware of her surroundings.
She ate well from the start and moved about at ease with me in the pen which showed she was far from right.
2 weeks later she had improved enornmously and I rang the finder to ask about the area. This little badger nightly visited gardens for peanuts and was seen with her mother on many occasions.
They had missed her as her mother was calling alone to be fed. I arranged to take her back in the evening time to the garden which was yards from her accident.
She boxed well and we drove over the purple moors to Grosmont for her release.
The ladies that found and fed the badgers welcomed her back like an old friend.
She stepped daintily from the box and  knew exactly where she was, stepping over a low fence rail and away home.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Barn Owl and Buzzard Juv's.

This young Barn Owl was found with 3 older siblings in a nest box in the East Riding. Rob Salter, Barn Owl ringer found him just in time.He had an injury to his air sacks which leaked air from his body trapping it under the skin.The air built up and covered the whole body,forcing the bottom bill up so the bird could not eat.He looked bloated and the skin was tight. I had to puncture the taut skin so the bird could eat. He was given antibiotics and a large slit was made so the air could pass through. Once the leaky air sack healed so did the large slit by the side of the shoulder and the bird ate well and was happy again. Rob and I met up again in
Morrisons car park in Beverely and he took him home.His 3 siblings were still in the nest box and he huddled back up in the familiarity of the box and home. A week later Rob was passing by and he looked in to see how things were going.The 4 youngsters hissed thier displeasure at being disturbed again , all looked well and thier was plenty of food in the larder.

A this years Buzzard flew in front of a car during a rain storm near Scarborough. The driver picked her up and tried to release her in a nearby field. She could not fly so I went to collect her. Her breathing was bad, bubbly and heavy. She was left to rest in a quiet pen with food. I took her for Andy Forsyth the vet to exam and  x-ray. She had blood etc in the body cavity but no wounds. She was put on a course of antibiotics and we crossed our fingers.
She refused food for 2 days but remained calm and too steady. She began to eat and to improve. Her demeanour and wildness came back and after 10 days was sat up on a perch and looking good.

I took her for BTO ringing and called in to the finders to get an exact location to release her.
The young nepehew of the finder came with me for the release.
We let her go next to an L shaped mixed woodland she sat on my shoulder and then my head before flying off ! She flew straight and true into a large tree.

As we got back into the car another Buzzard flew over from the far wood straight to the tree where the young bird was perched . This bird must have been watching the release and came to gather up her youngster.
I'm a lucky woman !

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Snared Badger

This adult sow badger was found caught in a snare around the hips, in a hedgerow at Overton which is north of York, just off the A19. The RSPCA attended and a local vet. The snare with badger attached was taken to Minster Vets where they were parted under anasthetic. She then came here the following day, very stressed and upset. I left her to settle and she remained very alert and suspicious for the next  2 days and ate nothing .She was given antibiotic injections every 2 days and on the 4th, 5th and 6th days the snare wound opened up like a deep pusy zip.Snares cause pressure necrossis , the snare tightens and cuts off the blood supply and the skin dies off which but does not show to begin with.It is so important not to release a badger straight from a snare but to keep them safe and give strong doses of antibiotic. She began to eat and I had to be very careful and  repsectful when injecting her. It took 3 weeks for the wound to come up flat and for her flesh to heal over. She began to test the pen, always a good sign that they are well and ready to be off.

I rang in the incident to the North Yorkshire Police, which at first was ignored, there is not a Wildlife Crime Officer dedicated to York at the moment.Eventually a knowledgable WCO came down from Bedale and visited the area where she was snared. I had been for a look also and sadly there were 2 areas of disturbance where 2 badgers had been caught.

After 3 weeks she was ready to return and we travelled back to the farm track where she was illegally caught .As soon as I lifted her from the car her nose was up sniffing the familiar scent of home.

I put the travelling box down and she scrabbled about ready for the off. To say she went well was an under statement !Fast, straight and galloping, down the farm track then a sharp left and into the thick cover of oil seed rape. Lovely. I hate snares and think its about time this barbaric practise was finally banned forever.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Yorkshire Otters

These 2 otter cubs were found alone on a frosty cold evening in Norton at the end of 2009.
I was lucky to get the dog otter cub as he was lost in the skate park near the river.
I can only presume thier mother was killed on the busy road or on the railway line.
They ate well and moved about the pen as one.
I met up with Ed Heap at Woodall Services on the M1 and he took them for rearing to the New Forest Wildlife Park. Otters live with thier mother for the first year so must be reared on in captivity before release.

This June they were ready to return, so a soft release pen was erected near the River Derwent with the help of Craig Ralston, Fallon Mahon and Steve Hiner of Natural England. I went to collect the otters at the services where we parted company 18 months ago.

Mars and Saturn as the New Forest team had called them, were chunky, solid beautiful otters.They travelled up in 2 boxes and were placed in the pen.

We left them to come out of thier travelling boxes at will.
They ate well , splashed about in the paddling pool and made lovely otter tunnels through the rank grasses.
Best of all we never saw them again, they remained secretive, shy and very much the wild beasts we hoped they would be. A big thankyou to the team in the New Forest for rearing them as the wild things they should be. After a fortnight the electric was turned off and the pen quietly flattened and they were free to go as and when. We continued with the food which they ate less of. Footptrints and spraints are seen about the area.
Makes me smile to think they are back under a Yorkshire sky where they began. A big thankyou to all who made this possible.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Court Case, Keeper Snares and Shoots Sow Badger.

This skull was found in woodland at Menethorpe, near Malton.
It is the skull of an adult badger with a clear bullet fracture .
Alarm bells rang and the tenant farmer, myself and PC Jez Walmsley the Wildlife Crime Officer at Malton were concerned. The land was keepered by David Stephen Welford of Whitegrounds near Malton.
In September 2010 a dead badger was just visible in an ancient badger sett at Menethorpe.

I went to look and pulled from the sett this adult sow badger.
She had a thin blue bruised snare line on her belly and a blooded face.
I took her for examination and x rays to Mike Jones , vet at Battleflatts, Stamford Bridge, York.
The x ray clearly shows a 2.2. bullet had killed her. She was shot at close range through the eye downwards to the throat.
This beautiful adult sow had been snared illegally and shot very close to her sett.

Welford admitted to snaring and killing the badger.
His excuse was she was too badly injured to survive and shot her. She had a bruise and at the post mortem this thin bruise was her only injury from the snare.
It is illegal to set a snare close to a badger sett, she was snared 12 metres from her home.
After months of the court process Welford eventually pleaded guilty and was fined £385 and £100 costs.
The life a badger is worth £385, shameful.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Badger Cub

This little boar badger followed a dog walker early last Saturday morning in North Tyneside. They rang The Badger Trust for advice.
Lesley from Durham Badger Group went out to have a look.
She tried to return him to the nearest active sett. By now he was very tired and laid down and went to sleep , refusing to go to ground.
Lots of phone calls and conversations occured and we met up off the A19 and the cub came here for some rest and rehab.

He weighed 1646g and had tiny teeth so only just at the weaning stage. He would not take to a bottle so was rehydrated and left to rest in a warm pen under a heat lamp.
Various food items were left in the pen and he took to powdered esbilac milk with baby rusk and honey, they love sweet things.He also ate some tinned and soaked complete dog food.

He needed warmth and rest and good food.
He was taken for a blood test a couple of days later.
The protocol for hand reared badger cubs is to test them for tb 3 times, at least a month apart, and all tests must be negative before they are released in groups in late summer, early autumn. Cubs are given thier first test before introducing them to other orphan cubs for rearing. Badger cubs must be reared together as single cubs can imprint very easily on thier human carers and then cannot live the wild life they were intended for.

As expected his test was negative, we do not have tb in badgers in the north.
He needed badger company and there are very few trusted centres that can care for cubs in the right and proper way.
He went to the RSPCA wildldife hospital in Stapeley, Cheshire. They seemed to be a miserable lot when I arrived there, let's hope they care for the wildlife better than they treat the humans transpoerting them.
He should do well and will be housed with other cubs which makes all the difference.
It was a pleasure to have him here for a short while, badgers will always be special to me.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Peregrine Falcon

Ooh I love a big bird of prey.
This fine, male Peregrine was found sitting on a fence ,where he had been all night.He was taken into the vets at Beverely and brought here by a kind couple who also brought in a juv Tawny Owl.
They were both settled seperately in warm , quiet quarters after tube feeding.
The falcon had a proud wing with some swelling and heat on the elbow joint and was too quiet .
The juv Tawny was also thin and quiet and was left to rest.
The Peregine was rung with a metal bto ring and an orange darvik, quite unusual.
I rang the bto and they told me he was rung in the nest last year in Nottinghamshire.
He was soon eating but I was concerned about the wing and rang Andy Forsyth, vet at Strensall for some advice.
I took him in the following day where the bird was x rayed. There was no sign of shot , thank goodness and the elbow joint was not fractured.Andy is a very good experienced falconry vet, skillfull and realistic.
So home to rest with plenty of food and pain killers.
Keeping a wild bird of prey content and resting is often difficult, but we managed it.The swelling went down and the bird remained calm and he kept his feathers in good condition.
He stayed a fortnight and then went for release.
Nerve racking as I hoped he would fly well, I'd tried him in an avairy and he flew from perch to perch.
He flew low from the hand and improved the further he flew.He swooped up into a dark, quiet wood close to where he was found. I hoped he would rest there and gather his bearings.

The juv Tawny didn't do so well , he would not eat so was tube fed and went onto meat .
He seemed to be doing well but was found dead one morning in the I.C. box.

I have 11 Mallard ducklings under a heat lamp, eating, swimming and talking a lot !
The first baby garden bird is here, a juv Blackbird, very well and should have been left for his parents rear
but .........
The over wintered hedgehogs have gone I just wish it would rain, more food for them if it did.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Home Sweet Home.

This adult sow was found hiding under a car on the drive way of a rural house. She was collected by the RSPCA and taken to Battleflatts Vets ,Stamford Bridge.
After x rays and examination she came here for rest and rehabilitation. She had pusy infected ears, her eyes were sunk in her head from dehydration and she was far too compliant !
She was given antibiotics, lots of food and left to rest under a heat lamp.

She laid doggo for 2 days, eating all before her and sleeping rolled up in deep straw.
If left alone, fed well and unharassed badgers will switch off and heal well.
She was ready for release a week later.
 There was some stubborness on her part to enter the travelling box, but after some firm cajoling with a board she stepped in and was ready for travelling and release.

The kind householder that found her joined us in my car for a look round the area.
Badgers are very territorial and must be put back very close to where they are found. It was dusk with a bit of traffic still about.A field away from the original site was a lovely badger path leading into a scrubby dark wood.
As I lifted her in the box, she raised her head, drinking in the smell of home.
She stepped smartly out of the travelling cage before I had fully opened the door. She took off along the badger path at speed, for the familiarity of home.
Always the best bit of rehabilitation.

The first Mallard duckling is here along with a baby Robin, 2 juv Tawnies and a rta adult Tawny.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

First baby bird of the year.

This young Tawny was found on a wood floor at Bransholme, Hull this week.
He had a wing measurement of 98mm making him about 3-4 weeks old.
The parent birds must have begun nesting in the dark, extremely cold days
of the New Year.
He is just too young to be a "brancher" and must have fallen out of the nest hole.
They come out of the nest shouting for food and are still unable to fly. If they fall out
they can and do climb back up with talons and bill. I don't think he would have managed to get back.
He should rear well and be released back once he is a strong flyer and has good adult flight feathers.

Deer make difficult paitents in rehab. They are extremely skittish, shy and very nervous.
This adult roe buck was crossing a busy road and was clipped by a car. A following mini bus driver kindly stopped as the deer was laid out thrashing wildly.
He picked him up and laid him among the seats, he had no passengers at the time. After arriving here we drove straight to the vets and after a listen to his chest and an examination of his fine slim legs we decided to give him a go.
I laid him in deep straw in a small shed with a heat lamp and left him to rest. He was concussed , had a bloody mouth and a deep gash to one leg but didn't look too bad, only time would tell. He remained calm and slightly dopey the next day, he had swelling to one side of his face but was on his keel and looking ok. I hoped he would stand and start to look more active.
The next day he could stand on his back legs but one of his front legs was loose and not right. 
The vet called again and the injury to the front leg was just too severe and he was quietly put to sleep. 
Some you win, some you loose.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Little Swimmer

This beautiful otter cub was found calling loudly in the middle of the day on the banks of the River Swale.
She followed the movement of a horse and rider.
The river was in flood, the banking was close to a busy road and a popular dog walking area.
We can only guess as to why she was alone.
She settled into a pen with fresh trout and a hidy hole.
She stayed a few days and I took her across to The Chestnut Centre in the High Peaks in Derbyshire.
They have a very good record and tailor made facilites for caring for otters.
She will travel on to the New Forest in the next couple of days to join 2 other cubs for her rehabilitation.
This superb close up photograph was taken by Helen Jones.
Mike Jones, her husband, is one of the vets at Battleflatts , Stamford Bridge, York.
I have worked with Mike over the years and he has always been kind and supportive.
They holiday in Scotland watching, Otter, Pine Martin and White Tailed Sea Eagle.
Helen has a web site, where she displays her wildlife photographs.

It's been a hard week with a savage badger persecution incident.
I have seethed with anger and hatred but have at last settled down, it's not good to be that angry.
Caring for wildlife is not always easy but spring is round the corner and I look forward ................

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Badger Sett Disturbance

This was an active badger sett until agricultural contractors set to work. This sett was badly damaged last March. It has taken this long to get them into court. Sadly the case was dismissed this week after a 2 day trial.
The magistrated decided that as the contractors didn't know it was a sett then they were not guilty for recklessly destroying it.
By more good luck than judgement one entrance was left open, so any remaining live badgers could get out.
Within a day or two the entrance was enlarged by the badgers and lots of footprints were visible.
This badger sett is still in active use with 5 active badger sett entrances.
Very disappointing to get a not guilty but hopefully an experience not to be repeated.

The weather has warmed up and a Mute Swan,3 Mallard ducklings,5 Tawny Owls, a Little Owl and a Barn Owl ate well here and were safe in avairies during the very hard weather. All are out now , back to where they should be.
The hedgehogs do well and some have continued to eat through the winter.