THE MISTRAL STORY…
As told by Patroller Eileen Tyrer
The Mistral Story - 2005
4th March, Freedom and Braveheart had a tough time with the weather. They were frozen in the dyke and when trying to get to Eileen for food at 6 a.m. in the morning she heard the ice cracking, as Braveheart made a channel towards the bank for all of them. They managed to get close enough for her to throw the food to them and were soon tucking in. It will be awhile yet before Mistral starts to build her nest, but all of the females are eating tremendously preparing for the time when they go without food.
May 2005, just before I went on my holidays, Mistral had started to make her nest and sit on it leaving it every so often to feed or add more to her nest with the help of Freedom and Braveheart. It did not take long though before Mistral was in trouble with a hook and line in her leg.
Janet had gone down to the dyke with a willing helper, who had unfortunately never had any occasion to help in a rescue; apparently it did not go well. Janet and I work extremely well together and we do miss each other if one or the other of us is not available in a difficult rescue. Sue Morgan came down after hearing from Janet but by then Mistral and her two protectors were well aware that she was being sought out to be caught, they are all aware of the slightest movement you make towards them. Sue decided to call out the Kent wildlife rescue. Craig, one of the best rescuers took three hours with a canoe and patient persistence to catch her, once caught Graig was able to free her from the fishing line and remove the hook from her leg. It was a particular nasty pike hook she was given a shot of antibiotics, tagged then released.
On my return home I was able to get some photos of
her on the nest with her admiring suitors Freedom and Braveheart not
far away. Since then she has hatched out eight cygnets. The following
day when I went down one of the cygnets was missing. I can only presume
it was not well or the pike has taken it, I don’t suppose we
will ever know. As soon as I see them the first thing I do is always
check the numbers and breath a sigh of relief if they are all there.
At 6.15 pm the wind was terrible along the seafront and it was difficult
to walk against it. I checked on Mistral but she obviously thought
the same and had gone on her nest to keep out of the wind. I walked
around the field then made my way to the beach huts where it wasn’t
quite so windy. Freedom takes to the skies every so often whooping
like mad just to let everyone know that he is there and warning them
to stay away. Braveheart does his best to follow but he has gone into
moult and is unable to fly now. Mistral lost a second cygnet a few
days later, and then a further two went missing the following night.
It has been quite a shock to everyone who takes an interest in Mistral
and her family. Every day people go to count them and breath a sigh
of relief that the four are still with their family. We can only assume
it is either the pike or fox, but we have also heard there is a weasel
in the area. Mistral now has the three cygnets who are growing quite
well, thankfully none of them so far have been caught up in fishing
The Hammerton swan family had five babies but lost one very quickly. Mother produced three grey and two white cygnets. Early one morning when I was doing my usual rounds I found only three of the cygnets with their parents, I spotted the missing one struggling to get on the island where they nest at night, the cygnet was unable to get out of the water at all or even stand. I phoned for Andrew who has helped before as he and his friends have kayaks, he was on his way home from night work but immediately said he would help. The next hour to 8 a.m. was a long wait, patients is not one of my best virtues when I can see something suffering. I was trying so hard not to be too anxious; I even contemplated swimming over to the island but knew if I did the parents would attack me. It was the longest hour ever, before Andrews’s car came into sight. He had brought his brother and a work colleague.
It wasn't to long before we had the kayak carried to the pond along with my swan medical case. We got there just in time to see Freedom the Hooper swan had flown into their territory and was squaring up for a fight. The mother had taken her three cygnets into the reeds to hide them but the one that was trapped was calling frantically and Freedom was making towards it. Andrew quickly got the kayak into the water with his brother and paddled over to the cygnet. They managed to untangle it from the reeds and lift it into the kayak. It was badly entangled with fishing line in its mouth and round its body and leg. The hook was right in the joint of the leg. We cut the line first that had gone into its mouth hopefully he should automatically ingest it into the gullet. I was just able to see the barb on the hook, so while I held the leg and the hook Andrew was able to cut the barb off, and we were then able to pull the line through. We rubbed and massaged the swollen leg before injecting it with antibiotics and releasing it back to its parents. I returned to the pond in the afternoon to check that all was ok, it was feeding with its family and no swelling had appeared at any side of the neck so obviously it had digested the rest of the line and it seems in fine form now.
The last few days have been very hectic we had a family
of swans on the railway line, which we were called out to. All the
trains had been stopped for over half an hour. We walked over two
miles only to discover that the swan family had managed to get back
onto the river. We were all worn out but then had to walk another
two miles to get back. Rail tracks are not the best places to walk,
The day before a family with six cygnets had turned up via the sea to go on the boating lake but a family with two cygnets were already there and the parents of those were most aggressive. The next morning the six cygnets with their parents had left the area but I soon found them sleeping on the prom opposite the Cliff Hotel. I got Alan to call Sandy, one of the girls that helps out with the swans, thankfully she agreed to come. Sandy brought seed and bread with her so we managed to walk them along to the next slope about a couple of hundred yards away and finally persuaded them to go on the beach. Then began our vigil to keep people and dogs away from the area until the tide came in. We hoped they would go back from where they had come. They finally set of about 11.30 a.m. as the tide grew deeper, swam over to near the stone pier and rested on some sand and rocks where we knew they would be safe. So we left taking it in turns to call back from time to time and check on them. They finally disappeared at 3 p.m. we hoped they had gone in the direction of the river Stour but neither of us saw in which direction they went.
Monday was the busy day with the railway family. I then got home to the second callout to the caravan camp. I had been informed it was cygnet with an extremely swollen foot. When I arrived I was met with the parents and six cygnets, they looked like our beach family. I left to go back later but then had to deal with the railway family. On my return I phoned Sandy to tell her I think I have found your beach family and could she pick me up.
A short while later we arrived at the caravan camp, to find one cygnet all on its own. I picked him up and looked at his leg, which was extremely swollen but no sign of a line. I was unable to get hold of Sue so I left her a phone message. Sandy had gone to check on the rest of the beach family and give them some food on her return. We then returned to mind the injured cygnet while I phoned Alan to get the cage ready, which is now in my back room.
Sue phoned later and we discussed the cygnet. Sue was unable to take it as she was full up, plus the fact she was moving back into her house after a fire she had nearly a year ago so life was very hectic for her. It was decided to inject two lots of antibiotics and then see how it goes. He has now been named Harry if its a girl it will be Harriet or something similar. Harry had quite perked up on Tuesday so we decided to put him in the bath. We tried the sink but it wasn't deep enough, as we needed to get the leg in the water so we filled the bath. Harry had his first swim with us peeking through the door, he will stay in one spot if we are there but likes to swim round when we’re not. The leg is still very swollen, Sue thinks from the information we have given, that he could have dislocated his hip. Tonight he is due for another double injection and a final one on Friday night then he is going over to Sue's at Salcott near Tiptree. He will be having two daily baths lasting about a couple of hours according to how he is.
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