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Daffodils have been flowering around the site which, despite the cold weather, has given us all hope that spring is on its way!  A lot of work has been going on this week to get out aviaries and pre-release pens ready, as spring is our busiest season. It is when we see an influx in orphans arriving at our centre, including otter, badger and fox cubs, and fawns.

Spring also sees the arrival of Easter, and our fundraising team have been busy planning our Easter family fun days. We will be open on Friday March 30th and Saturday March 31st and will have lots of fun activities for all the family to enjoy. There will be talks on our animals, crafts, and an Easter trail. We hope to see lots of you there – its free entry!

Zazoo being weighed Bird handlers Sue and Diane carrying out the health checks

Every week our resident birds of prey have their health checks, which is very important as it helps us to keep track of their condition and spot any problems. This is done by our team of bird handlers, who check their weight, as well as their body condition, eyes, talons and beaks. We have 6 resident birds of prey – Star the tawny owl, Tinnun the kestrel, Zazoo and Shadow the barn owls, Mumbles the Bengal eagle owl and Daphne the European eagle owl. These are all birds that have been born or bred in captivity elsewhere and come to us. We are unable to release them into the wild as they are used to human contact and cannot hunt for food themselves.

Stanley

When we receive injured birds of prey we treat them and then release them back into the wild. This involves cutting off all human contact with them before they are released, to ensure that they do not become too tame. Stanley, a beautiful sparrow hawk, arrived this week after being hit by a car. After an initial examination he seemed to be relatively uninjured, just stunned. He was then taken to the vets for an eye examination. It is very important that birds of prey have good eyes as they need to be able to hunt from their food, and spot their prey from high up in the sky. When Stanley’s eyes were examined the vet found that he had an eye ulcer. He is now receiving treatment for that, and should be ready to be released in a few days.

Finn

Tiny Finn was another one of the animals we admitted this week. He had been caught by a cat and brought in from a field where there are many warrens. If cats catch wild animals and break the skin they can inject infection through their teeth, and the victim may need to be given antibiotics. Luckily Finn was uninjured and is now being cared for by Katie, one our animal carers. Weighing only 120 grams, Finn is still on milk, but rabbits only feed their young kits twice a day so it’s not too much work! He is already eating greens so will soon be weaned.

The post The Wild Blog, part 4 appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Laura with Amore

Love really has been in the air this week, as everyone has fallen in love with our first otter cub of the season! She arrived just before Valentine’s Day, and so had to be given a fitting name. After much debate Amore was chosen, which is the Italian word for love. Little Amore was found hidden in some reeds calling for her mother. As it was so cold and she had been calling for a while we were concerned about her, so Head of Animal Care Laura and animal carer Sarah went out to assess the situation. They rescued her with nets and bought her back to our centre. Laura has been acting as her surrogate mother by bottle feeding her, and will teach her to swim. Amore has already proved herself to be a bit of a star and has captured the interest of BBC Somerset, who came out to take photos of her and interview Laura!

We have had lots of children on site during the week, as Ellie, our learning and education officer has been running three Wild Academy sessions: Brilliant Birds, Winter Wildlife and Tremendous Trees. These sessions are great, as

Children making bird feeders

they let children learn and explore nature through hands on learning. The wet weather didn’t spoil things and the youngsters were spotted exploring the site and woods with their raincoats and wellies on! They all seemed to enjoy themselves – especially Ellie! There are lots more sessions throughout the year – visit the learning section to find out more.

Pauline hard at work

Our reception area has been having a bit of a makeover. Reception is the first point of call for visitors and it was looking a little bit tired. Never one to shy away from a bit of hard work our Charity Founder Pauline has been painting the walls a bright green colour, sweeping and rearranging the stock. It’s now looking much more welcoming. We have lots of lovely items for sale in the shop so why not pop in and have a browse!

One very lucky gull!

This lucky gull was bought in from Clevedon by our response driver Cindy. He had been hit by a lorry and two cars, but seems to have escaped serious injury. Our animal carers assessed him, and it looks like he is just stunned, but they will be keeping a close eye on him for the next few days. Response drivers like Cindy are so important to us, as they rescue animals in need and bring them to us for treatment. We have a dedicated team of them that jump into action when called, but can always do with more! If you are interested visit the volunteer section and find out more.

The post The Wild Blog, part 3 appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Rescued orphaned otter cub makes hearts melt at Secret World Wildlife Rescue
 
A tiny otter cub was rescued on Saturday (10th February) in Bridgwater, Somerset by Secret World Wildlife Rescue – the charity’s first otter cub of the year.
 
Hidden in reeds, the young cub had been calling for its mother since 5am, but its calls were becoming weaker.
 
Being only too aware of the bitterly cold weather and how long the cub had been calling, Laura Benfield, Head of Animal Care at Secret World, went with animal carer Sarah Tingvoll to assess the situation and rescue her if necessary. The cub was very feisty when she was rescued with nets but soon became very weak and tired after being left for so long. 

Amore, as she has been named, has recovered well and is being cared for by Laura, building up the necessary trust for a young animal to feed and feel safe.
 
“She is so beautiful that it is easy to give her the love that she needs,” says Laura. “But we will need to find company for her soon because it is important, once she is weaned, that we stop all human contact.”
 
Otter cubs are among the most expensive orphans that Secret World Wildlife Rescue cares for. They need to be held until they are 12 to 18 months old before they are old enough to be independent of their mother as they would be in the wild.
 
A diet of trout, minced beef and dead chicks for these juveniles costs £240 a month with the added cost of fresh water for the pools on top.
 
If you would like to help raise Amore and see how she progresses through her rehabilitation, why not adopt an otter today? Visit www.secretworld.org/adoptions/. Over 5,000 wildlife casualties are rescued by Secret World every year.

The post Hearts melt as otter cub rescued appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day for a rare grey long-eared bat which was rescued in October by Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill.
The bat, named Gandalf by rescuers, is about to be released by the RSPCA with a new-found female companion, Merri. Gandalf and Merri were paired up together at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton and they will both be released together in the spring. 

After Gandalf was found grounded by a member of the public he was admitted to Secret World and taken to a vet in Williton, Somerset, where he was found to be underweight, dehydrated and unable to fly.
After a period of critical care and hand-feeding Gandalf recovered well and was taken to the RSPCA in Taunton for rehabilitation.
“I had a suspicion that he was a grey long-eared bat when he came in, but juvenile bats can be difficult to identify,” said Daniel Clifford Bryant, Animal Carer at Secret World Wildlife Rescue.
“Grey long-eared bats are one of the UK’s rarest species, with an estimated population of only 1,000 to 3,000. They are mainly found in the south of the country and are part of the National Roost Monitoring Program. This means we had to be very vigilant with this bat as it is very important that it is released in the same place it came from.
“We are thrilled to hear that Gandalf has been paired up with a female and that they can return home together. Working with other wildlife rescue centres is so important in being able to maintain our native wildlife populations.”
Merri was found grounded in Merriott, Somerset in August when she was just three weeks old. Since then she has been recovering in the care of the RSPCA in Taunton, building up her weight and flying strength ready to be released in the spring.
Her rescuers thought the tiny bat may have to fly solo back into the wild, so they were pleased to be able to pair Merri up with Gandalf.
“She had been living alongside brown long-eared-bats before Gandalf came along, but they seem to have really hit it off as they now cuddle up together on one side of the room,” said RSPCA bat expert India Long.
“We are going to set up a special bat box for them where they are going to be released in the hope they will roost there. It has to have an apex roof so they can fit in with their long ears!”
India added: “Grey long-eared bats are one of the rarest bats in England so to have two in the same area that can then be released together is incredible!”
Bat facts
  • In England grey long-eared bat colonies are only found in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset and Sussex
  • Although widespread in southern Europe, they are very rare in England
  • Their ears are nearly as long as their body but they aren’t always obvious – when resting they curl their ears back or tuck them away under their wings
  • Grey long-eared bats eat moths, small beetles and crane flies
  • They emerge at night and forage in open spaces, catching prey in flight

The post Love is in the Air for Batty Pair appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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The saying ‘the show must go on’ has never been more true for us than it was this week. We operate seven days a week, and have numerous animals on site who need care and help. This means that whatever the weather or the circumstances our animal care team have to look after them. This is challenging at the best of times, but even more so in the dark! At the beginning of the week we had a power outage on site. Luckily we had light in the hospital room, but our Millie Block, where we rehabilitate animals, was in darkness. Showing true resilience our amazing team donned head torches and carried on! Big thanks to the electricians who came out and fixed it the next day.

You may have seen in the news this week the report that hedgehog numbers are declining. In the 1950s the population was estimated to be at 30 million, but that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade. Because of this report we have received a lot of media interest in the last few days, and our Founder Pauline Kidner was interviewed on BBC Radio Somerset. She spoke about why numbers were declining, with habitat loss, new roads and housing developments, and the use of pesticides all contributing.  Our message to people wanting to help the hedgehogs is to make their gardens more accessible, by leaving holes in fences so that the animals can pass through easily. This will help them in their hunt for food, and suitable places to hibernate.

Rory and Mina, two hedgehogs we treated last year

This report was very timely as this week our Learning and Engagement Officer Ellie had students from Westhaven School onsite learning about how they can help hedgehogs. They also built a hedgehog shelter, which they are looking forward to putting in their school grounds! Education is very important to us, as by inspiring a love and understanding of wildlife and the countryside in children will help to ensure that they are protected for generations to come.

And finally we said goodbye to swans Ant and Dec, who left us to go back to the wild. They came in to us separately as juvenile rescues. They were placed in a pen together and become friends, so when it was time to release them we decided they should go together. Volunteers Graeme and Vicki took them for a release. Graeme said: “We know where to take them and it’s so good to set them free and watch them join the others in the field. There can be anything up to 30 in a field and they are such majestic animals.”

Ant and Dec explore their surroundings.

The post THE WILD BLOG, PART 2 appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Welcome to the new blog for Secret World. Each week we will take you behind the scenes of our site, letting you know what has been happening during the week.

This week the weather has been very temperamental, one moment it’s gloriously sunny and you think Spring is on the way, and the next you are caught in a sudden downpour as you run from one porta cabin to another! This has been especially trying for our builders who have been out in all weathers. Our site has been undergoing some essential building work on new aviaries and pens ready for the influx of orphaned badger and fox cubs and fledglings we are expecting any time from now.

The animal carers have been busy as usual, treating the wide variety of animals we see through our doors every day. This included a beautiful tawny owl that received a glancing blow from a car and suffered head injuries. She was left sitting at the side of the road and was very lucky not to have been more seriously hurt. She is currently in an incubator as she is in a state of shock, but she is expected to make a full recovery. It will then be important for us to get her back to where she came from as she is probably ready to start nesting.

One thing we all love here is when animals recover and we can release them. This week we saw two of our swans heading home. It is always a funny sight seeing the swans being taken for release as we carry them in Ikea bags. It may seem an odd choice, but they are really good for keeping the birds calm and stopping them from flapping their wings around as they are moved. Seeing them being released into the wild makes everything we do worthwhile. We wish them lots of luck!

While we have success stories every day we also unfortunately have to deal with loss too. We were all sad to lose a fox overnight that despite everyone’s best efforts was just too ill to survive. We give every animal that comes through our doors the best possible chance of survival but this doesn’t always work out and when we lose any animal it affects us all.

Ending on a happier note this week our resident foxes had their annual vet check and vaccinations.  Megan, Mia and April live at Secret World because they were reared by people wanting them as pets. They now cannot be released as they are too tame. Thankfully all three foxes were given a clean bill of health and were soon back scampering around their enclosure.

The post The Wild Blog, Part 1 appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill, Somerset is encouraging children and their parents to join the charity’s Wild Academy and explore the great outdoors this February half-term.

We are organising a series of interactive workshops on Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th February from 10am until 12 noon to help keep children entertained during the school holidays.

Samantha Hannay, Head of External Relations at Secret World, said: “Parents often struggle to find things for their children to do during half-term, which is one of the reasons why we set up the Secret World Wild Academy.

“It also fits in with our ethos of educating the public at large about our work and the plight of British wild animals. We hope these fun but educational workshops will help children develop a love and appreciation for our amazing native wildlife and teach them valuable preservation skills.

“Visitors will also have the opportunity to find out more about Secret World and what it takes to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured wild animals.”

On Tuesday 13th February, the Wild Academy will be running a Brilliant British Birds workshop. Youngsters will learn which birds to look out for in winter and how to make a bird feeder, which they can take away and use in their garden at home. They will also get the chance to get up close and personal with a British bird of prey!

On Wednesday 14th February, children attending the Winter Wildlife workshop will find out what our wildlife gets up to during the cold winter months, from hibernating hedgehogs to sleepy badgers and juvenile swans. They will also be able to go on a nature walk to hunt for signs of wildlife and make feeders to take home.

On Thursday 15th February, our Education Officer will be inviting children to venture into Millennium Wood for our Tremendous Trees workshop to discover the different types of winter trees, play games and make clay tree spirits. They’ll also plant a tree to provide shade and fruit for the charity’s injured residents.

We welcome all accompanied children to the Wild Academy sessions but these are primarily suitable for children aged 5 to 11 and cost £6 per child. All children must be accompanied by an adult who can attend the workshops free of charge.

To book your place please visit www.secretworld.org/events 

The post Take a Walk on the Wild Side at Secret World this Half-term appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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After a period of recuperation Thomas, a young swan who was hit and injured by a train in Somerset, has returned home.

Thomas didn’t have the best start to the new year as he was hit by a train between Taunton and Bridgwater. However, thanks to Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill, his story has a happy ending.

Staff at the wildlife rescue centre received a call about a distressed swan on the tracks on 2nd January and volunteer response driver Graeme Thompson headed out to the scene. He found Thomas looking bewildered but he had to wait until a railway engineer came out to get to him. However, before he arrived Thomas had moved into a nearby garden and Graeme was able to capture him and bring him in to Secret World for treatment.

Once in the hospital room staff checked him out and found that he had a bruise to his carpal joint and a few small wounds. They were cleaned and he was given pain relief, before being made comfortable and given time to recover.

Secret World aims to return animals to where they came from, so a release site was found for Thomas at the canal near to where he was rescued. In a happy coincidence, two other swans were also due for release at the same time so Graeme took them all together.

After walking along the bank the swans were soon happy to swim off together.

Graeme said: “As expected, they were pleased to get onto the water. However, what we didn’t expect was that they would swim straight across and climb out on the other side! Off they determinedly set along the further bank for a considerable distance before deciding that the water was a good idea after all. Mission accomplished!” 

In 2017 Secret World treated 72 swans, all suffering from various injuries. Success stories like this show just what an important job they do.

Secret World provides a 365-days a year service to rescue sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. Members of the public who would like advice on how to look after wild animals or would like to report injured wildlife should call 01278 783 250.

The post Thomas swans off home – thanks to Secret World! appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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It may be unlucky to miss pins when you are playing a skittles match, but for Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill, it proved to be very lucky indeed!

As a bit of fun, Baldie’s Army, a skittles team based at the Bird in Hand pub in Bridgwater, fine their players when they miss pins or make mistakes. This money was collected over the year and as a result, £300 was donated to Secret World.

Head of External Relations Samantha Hannay said: “What a creative way of raising money! Thank you to all the players who dutifully paid their fines. We are heading into our busy orphan season and this money will help us to make sure they get the best possible care, giving them the chance to get back to the wild.”

Secret World are looking for more people to hold fundraising events and raise money for wildlife. In return Secret World can supply literature and merchandise, and will arrange for a representative to attend a cheque presentation and give a talk. For more details email Laura.durrant@secretworld.org.

Secret World provides a 365-days a year service to rescue sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. In 2017 the charity treated over 5,000 animals, all suffering from various injuries.

Members of the public who would like advice on how to look after wild animals or would like to report injured wildlife should call 01278 783 250.

The post Animal rescue charity bowled over by skittles club. appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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Secret World’s Annual Autumn Raffle winners are:

First Prize:

Miss S Evans (Reading); ticket no. 071470

Runners-up:

Mrs M Smith (Bristol); ticket no. 033484

Mr T Burford (North Somerset); ticket no. 036019

Mrs P Higgins (Hampshire); ticket no. 079484

Ms S Sharp (Bristol); ticket no. 048126

Mrs E McLellan (Weston-Super-Mare); ticket no. 028224

Mrs L Parfitt (Wells); ticket no. 047091

Mrs J. Buttle (Bridgwater); ticket no. 054011

Ms S King (Weston-Super-Mare); ticket no. 028142

Mrs Burrows (Bridgwater); ticket no. 052571

Ms C Laycock (Weston-Super-Mare); ticket no. 034790

The draw took place on Tuesday 19th December 2017 and all winners will be notified by post.

The post Autumn 2017 Raffle winners announced appeared first on Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

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