We are only into April, which is right at the start of the busy season in wildlife rehabilitation centres, but we have already admitted almost 800 casualties to Vale Wildlife Hospital so far this year.
The last few weeks have been noticeably busier with a steadily increasing number of calls to us for help. I have been watching many bird species on our site, including blackbirds, rooks, jackdaws and robins, busy collecting nesting material and have even seen one blackbird flying off with a beak full of food indicating that there are probably already babies in the nest.
The orphan season has well and truly kicked off with us as we have had 32 fox cubs brought in over the past few weeks! We rear many cubs every year but we rarely get them in as small as many of those we have taken in this year (under 100gms, only a matter of a couple of days old). Sadly, we lost three from one of the litters, from the the smallest, weakest group but all the others are thriving and gave us sleepless nights as to begin with they were being bottle fed every two, then every three hours throughout the day and night.
It is at this time of year that we are made very aware that wildlife rehabilitation is not a 9-5 job. It is 24 hours a day commitment and takes real dedication to be able to cope in the ‘busy season’ throughout the spring and summer months. We more or less have to put our life on hold for five months as, by the time we’ve worked very often a 12-14-hour day (and quite often more), we don’t feel like doing anything except falling into bed for a few hours sleep.
Nestling birds have started to arrive at the hospital, many because of the domestic cat, so we urge cat owners to be very vigilant, keep your pet in as much as possible, make sure he/she has a collar with a bell on and if you are aware of any nesting birds in your garden, try to make sure that the nest area is protected to keep cats away. Unfortunately a massive amount of damage is done to wildlife at this time of year by cats.