A LETTER AND EQUIPMENT LIST FROM SUE MORGAN WHO HEAT DEALS WITH WHEN THEY HAVE INJURED SWANS
In August of this year I was able to take a holiday with my family on the beautiful island of Gozo just off the coast of Malta. Since becoming involved in swan rescue, holidays are almost impossible due to the fact that many of the birds sustain such bad injuries that they have to remain permanently in our care. I am however extremely lucky to have some very good friends, whom, completely and very efficiently took over this unenviable task allowing me to take the two-week break. Helen Billing-Virley did the early morning shift, letting out the geese, ducks goat etc., at 5.00 am (yes 5.00 am) each day. Feeding takes an age with corn, barley and extruded wheat discs to be distributed, then the lettuce has to be shredded and the bread cut before being given to the menagerie, water bowls to be cleaned an re-filled, then general hosing down and tidying up. Then it was off to unlock the church before returning to her own home to see to her own animals, dog, rabbit, guinea pigs, chickens and ducks. Wonder what Helena did in her spare time that fortnight. What a star.
Coriander, Sharlands-Row took over the evening task of rounding up all the animals to put to bed safely away from Mrs Fox (whom we also feed in order that she does not try to catch and eat the wild mallards of which we seem to have collected around sixty). The task of getting everything shut in for the night is not an easy one. Hilary (our rescued goat) immediately chooses to run riot as soon as she knows it is time for bed. Charging around the house as though all the bats from hell are after her and lunging herself at the poor old geese. Who then take fright and jump into the stream or onto the pond and refusing to come onto land to enable one to get them to bed, when eventually caught one is sorely tempted to shove them into the oven rather than into their little house. However, Coriander did manage the task and survived to tell the tale. Then she also had to return home to tend her own animals, three dogs, five cats, two goats, rabbit and ducks. (Why do we do this I am often asked?) – No idea…Just a little mad perhaps.
Chris Jagger, Tollesbury took charge of my mobile phone, which enabled her to take care of the rescues, which arose during my absence – bet she wishes she hadn’t. There was a swan reported with a hole in it’s back, Chris along with Helena searched for miles in the area of Hoe and Paper Mill lock, no such swan was found. The calls are very often false alarms, which can be most frustrating. Then there was a duck in Colchester reported as having a ring caught over it’s foot, what type of ring I wonder, we will never know as this poor creature also was nowhere to be found. However, one such call-out came via the R.S.P.C.A., a goose with badly damaged wing and the following report was on my desk when I arrived home.
Informant – Tom – Canada Goose with broken wing, on Ardleigh reservoir in a gully, north end of Ardleigh, Wick Lane. Absolutely tipping down. Took 1½ hours to find, as informant could not give directions easily. Located bird in overflow sluice at side of reservoir, contained in run-off area but out of reach of swan hook. Water about 6½ feet deep. Called R.S.P.C.A., for suggestions, none offered, phoned police no answer, phoned Essex Fire Brigade, who laughed like a drain but arrived on the scene within 5 minutes. Torrential rain throughout rescue! Fireman suited up and on a line waded up to armpits into water and grabbed Goose. Loud, Cheers. Goose in very bad way. Thanked firemen - they were just wonderful.
Frantically rushed Goose to Sarah (our vet in Mersea) who decided to amputate wing. Got home tired, exhausted but very pleased and phoned Tom to inform him of outcome. Please collect Goose ASAP upon your return. This I did. When I saw my vet she confided to me that when Chris had taken the Goose to her she had pleaded that it should not be put to sleep. Susan will kill me if you do… don’t worry replied Sarah – I would not dream of such a thing as Susan would kill me also. Where do I get this reputation?
The little Goose survived this dreadful trauma and now lives happily in my garden with several other disabled birds.