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How has covid affected us? (cont'd from Autumn Newsletter)

 

Our first problem was sourcing food. Once lockdown came in people were stockpiling animal food and bedding. Although this calmed down later our food costs have been even higher than usual as we have to buy whatever is plentiful, however expensive. Unlike other rescue centres, our gulls are not fed cheap food. They get a diet which consist mainly of meat or fish with occasional soaked cat food.

Despite the current problems we have still taken in over 400 birds over the summer from all over Southern England. Many of the adults and babies have come in painfully thin, possibly due to a decrease in food supply. We still have over 50 babies to look after and will not release these until they are in good condition and have reached a good weight. Unfortunately, a bad start in life takes a long time to recover from. Every extra week that the babies are kept is another week of increased costs and workload. Rescue work is all day, every day with no respite, especially in our case as we have so many permanent birds. Thank you to the people who have enquired about volunteering. We will have to limit the numbers due to continuing worries about Covid. This increases our workload but also decreases our chances of catching this disease. I'm sure we all want to get back to normal as soon as possible.

 

HUNDREDS OF BIRDS (cont'd from Autumn Newsletter 2020)

All birds come to our hospital first for assessment. As soon as possible they will be moved to whatever environment suits their needs best. Tiny babies and seriously ill adults will be in cages, but most larger birds will be given more space and the company of others. Even a gull with a broken leg can often hop around on the hospital floor with others.

 

Over the years we have constantly added to our facilities so that, whatever the disability, injury or temperament, a suitable enclosure can be found. The options include stables, small aviaries, large aviaries, enclosures on concrete or grass. A broken leg or wing will need strapping for the minimum amount of time needed to heal without causing joints or muscles to seize up. Even uninjured birds need to be monitored and moved along at the right time to get them ready for release. Babies can easily be set back by being moved into a large space too soon.

Even In the busiest baby season we have never closed our doors. The work is non stop between 8am and 11pm throughout the summer with no break. There are times, when we are waiting for the next release, when it feels like we are going to drop from exhaustion or burst at the seams. Thank goodness gulls only have one set of babies a year so we focus on the fact that the end is in sight. Every year there are adults and babies that cannot be released. Sometimes they need more time but others have disabilities that mean they can never go free. We then focus on placing these birds in whatever enclosure and social group will suit them best. We are busy all year round as we now have so many permanent residents. 

 

Throughout the year we get many requests from other rescuers to take in their disabled birds. We often say no because we would soon be full. We are happy to take injured birds from anyone, but do object to people who want us to have ones that they have already treated. Maybe these birds could have gone free if we had been given them immediately but, either way, we are being asked to make a possible 30 year commitment as that is how long these birds can live. Please consider what you will do with any non release birds before deciding to try rehabilitation. We keep ours but cannot be responsible for everyone else's. It only takes 5-10 days for a broken limb to heal. If set wrong, or not given appropriate physio to prevent calcification of joints, the damage done will be irreversible.

If you support our no kill policy then please donate to our rescue. Gulls are not catered for in many places because of the space and money needed to look after them. We give our birds the best facilities and care which comes at a huge monetary cost. It would be understandable if people think that, because of the high number of birds helped, there is a team of workers backed by a large organisation. Unfortunately it is one gull loving lady with a long suffering husband!

NEWS FROM OUR CHARITY SHOP (cont'd from Autumn Newsletter 2020)

Pre lockdown everything was running smoothly but since reopening in June things have been very challenging in many ways. Volunteers were still isolating and we were only able to open restricted hours.  I’m pleased to say that we are now back to our normal trading hours, Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm, and delighted to have welcomed back the majority of our wonderful volunteers but regrettably we are still missing some of them and hope they return soon. 
 
Donations are always greatly received, however, many donors have seen lockdown as an opportunity to have a clear out and have sadly dumped unsaleable goods on our step which costs us time and money to sort and dispose of. Please do think about whether the goods you are donating are clean, complete and most importantly, saleable. We rely on the public’s generosity to stock our shop and do not like to refuse donations but there are exceptions sometimes.  
 
We are proud of our shop and ensure it is well stocked with a huge array of goods including clothing, shoes, bags, jewellery, toys, books, DVD’s, bric-a-brac and quality collectables. We have always ensured it is clean, bright and tidy and you are guaranteed a warm welcome and friendly smile. With the current situation we respectfully ask ALL customers to use our hand sanitiser at the entrance, with no exceptions, and to wear a mask or face covering unless you have a valid reason not to. We want all our volunteers and customers alike to stay safe whilst in our shop and to have an enjoyable shopping experience. 
 
Please come along and visit us and pick up a bargain in the knowledge that every penny you spend goes towards helping to run our gull  rehabilitation centre in Hempstead Lane and to helping vulnerable adults in the local community.
 

Stay safe

 

Fond regards, Lynne and team x
 

HOME GROWN BABIES

Rita and Lemon, Limey and Shirley have been married for a couple of years, but have never hatched any chicks before. This year both couples hatched 3 chicks each. We monitored their progress daily and were worried that they may wander off and get pecked by the other birds. What happened was a master class in parenting. Both couples were so protective that all the other birds kept well away from the nest area. Occasionally one would get too close at feeding time, but they would soon be told to push off. It was interesting to see how the two couples maintained their own small territory so that, although they were next to each other, there was no breaching of boundaries.

 

They did so well that we decided to leave the chicks to be reared to fledgling size. There was one who was removed, as they were not getting enough food, but the others grew to a huge size and soon ventured out and mingled with the colony. Once we could see that they were more independent we caught them and released them along side our other babies. Although we don't aim to breed from our gulls, it shows that they are living a full and happy life. If numbers of Herring gulls decline even further, then it will be good to know that they can breed in captivity, even from disabled birds.
 

Feathered Friends

We had a call from Tony at Wras in July 2020. "We have a four footed baby gull, would you like him?" Our answer was "Yes, of course".Here is Jake's story in pictures.

 

Jake was two weeks old when he came in, after falling from his nest. His two extra feet were growing from his hock joints and were seriously impeding his walking. 

Our immediate concern was to make Jake more comfortable, so we made him a shoe to keep his foot straight. After it was fitted Jake spent the next few days running up and down his cage.

Investigations were underway to see if an operation was feasible. We contacted Seers Croft vets to see if they were willing to operate. In the meantime, his stiff joint had loosened and was fully mobile. This made us even more determined to get his treatment arranged urgently.

After a successful fundraising appeal, it was time for Jake to go for his op. We decided that Daisy would keep him overnight and take him first thing in the morning.

Here he is in his travel cot ready for supper.

His operation went well. We were advised that it would be too risky to completely remove his feet as this would compromise the blood supply. He stayed overnight and we really missed him as he is a lovely character.

Jake's home but he has noticed that something is missing.

Here he is looking very pleased with the result.

Now all he has to do is practice his walking. Once his wounds have fully healed, he can make friends and , hopefully, be released.

Although he is no longer a four footed gull, he is still a very special boy and one that we will always remember.

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