Latest News We now have a YouTube channel with a number of new videos taken by Elfrieda Waren. Look on our Photos/Video Page. ******************************* "Swan Notes" News items written by Trust members and volunteers and usually appearing in the “Berwick Advertiser" newspaper each  week. Unfortunately, sister newspaper the “Berwickshire News” are no longer following suit. For those unable to read these items, and  those living outside the Berwick area, here are the last few editions.. 15th February 2018 Spring may be on its way, but the ice and snow of winter are not done yet, as we found at the trust last Wednesday morning. The  buckets of swan and duck food had frozen solid overnight so couldn’t be cleaned and replenished, but had to sit by the radiator while  other buckets were brought out. The swan droppings around the pool couldn’t be scraped up before volunteer Melvyn hosed the area  down; everything was on hold until the weak February sun slowly thawed it out. With the snows came a snowy white racing pigeon, kindly taken in by the trust’s  neighbours Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels and then transferred along the road to the  Rollo Centre.   They were able to trace his actual owner by the rings on his legs, and it turned out that  Snowy hadn’t been home for eight long years. Wherever he’d been since 2010, he’d  obviously been well cared for as he was in tip-top condition and loved human company.  Whenever a volunteer gave him any attention he would respond by strutting back and  forth in his cage, pushing his chest out and fluffing his feathers. Snowy’s owner no  longer kept pigeons, but requested that he be given to an experienced bird fancier, so  Snowy has now gone to strut his stuff in his new home. While most of the trust hedgehogs snooze away safely in Hotchi Mews, a report  published recently by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British  Hedgehog Preservation Society reveals that hedgehog numbers in rural areas have  declined by more than a half since 2000. While the report points to loss of habitats due  to more intensive farming practices and increased use of pesticides as the main reasons  for the decline, the National Farmers Union argues that as hog numbers have gone  down, the badger population – main predators of hedgehogs – has risen sharply. What is  not in dispute though is that while there might have been as many as 30 million hedgehogs living in the British countryside in the 1950s,  today it’s dwindled to an estimated one million.   The report does find some grounds for optimism though; in urban areas the hedgehog decline has slowed, suggesting that hogs are just  about coping by living in closer proximity to us humans.  That makes me believe that, with a few simple changes, as individuals we can make a real difference to the future survival of hedgehogs.  Creating hog-sized holes in garden fences helps them range over a wider area; introducing a feeding station with meaty (not fishy) pet  food and fresh water (not milk) can supplement their invertebrate diet, and a pile of logs and branches in an undisturbed corner can  provide them with the shelter they need. In the summer and autumn, a quick check of any areas of long grass before strimming or  mowing gives any hiding hedgehogs a chance to retreat, and not using slug pellets, pesticides or weedkillers means they have plenty of  insects to eat. Elfrieda Waren 8th February 2018 Last week we were able to release one of our Tawny Owls. It came in with an injured leg. After spending some time having cage rest it  went out to the Lomax Aviary t give the bird more room to move. At first it was finding some difficulty when it came to landing on  branches but gradually it has much improved. It was given a final check over and we thought it could be allowed to go. It was collected  by the people who brought it in and returned to the same spot where it was found. The other release was of a Buzzard  picked up from Spittal. It was very thin when it came in only  2/3rds of its ideal weight. It has taken some time to get the bird up to weight and then build up  the muscles it needs. Dick took the bird out of town to release it but he last saw it heading back  to Spittal!  We have been very busy moving more hedgehogs outside. We can use the three huts in the  Lomax now that the owl has been released. It is not just a case of taking hogs from the recovery  room and putting them outside as the sudden change of temperature would be too much of a  shock for them. W e have to move the hogs that are sleeping in the big, cool room and put them  in outside hutches, then clean out their big room hutches, then set them up ready for the hogs  moving from the recovery room. When we are doing this we have to make sure the paperwork is  correct so we know exactly which hog is in each hutch.  Work is continuing on the new indoor aviary. Jim gave the inside two coats of paint last week and  a whole load of wood arrived this Wednesday for the framework. Today he has started building  the framework. Its just so cold even in the big room.  The R.S.P.C.A. brought up another of last year’s Cygnets from Morpeth. It is thought that the  youngster would not leave the territory of it’s parents. This is a horrible time of year for last  year’s Cygnets as the family group that they have been with since they were hatched is suddenly  broken apart when the Cob suddenly turns on all the youngsters and drives them off. Some don’t  want to leave or may not understand what is going on when Dad starts to become aggressive to  them. This poor youngster was in the reeds when dad gave him a good beating for not leaving  home. He will have some nasty bruises, but should soon recover. I will let you know how he is progressing next week. Today the  photo is of Errol Owl in his aviary. It doesn’t seem to bother him how cold it is he still takes regular baths and sits keeping an  eye on us all as we work outside all muffled up against the icy wind.  Pat Goff 1st February 2018 It’s always easy to write about the amusing antics of the trust’s overwintering hedgehogs, or the grace and stateliness of the swans on the pool – but it has to be said, the trust also takes in animals that aren’t exactly ‘Top of the Pops’ when it comes to human preference. Gulls are probably the least popular of our ‘patients’, noisily nesting on rooftops as they do, filching chips on Castlegate, and splattering the odd passerby with horrid white goo. There’s no doubt about it, gulls are a handful right from the start, when the orphaned or abandoned chicks start to arrive at the Rollo Centre in the spring. But wildlife rescue is not about making judgments on which animals are cute or beautiful and which are too much of a nuisance to deserve our attention.   Crows undoubtedly fall into the category of the ‘bad lads’ of local wildlife, successfully feeding on farmland crops, together with eggs and chicks of other  birds despite attempts at scaring them away, trapping and shooting at them. So it was with mixed feelings that I said a tentative ‘hello’ recently to a jet black bird glaring angrily out of a cage in the recovery room with his gimlet eyes. He’d given Kay and Jackie the runaround on a school playing field while bemused bystanders looked on. But finally he had tired of hopping about and they were able to capture him and bring him in for treatment of his lungworm, which was giving him a nasty croaking cough. He’s been in for a couple of weeks now, and I can’t help getting the feeling when we’re in the recovery room cleaning and lining cages, weighing and recording hogs, and washing and replenishing food bowls, the crow is quietly taking it all in, thinking who knows what about us people and our daily lives. A quick Google tells me that the corvid family – and particularly crows – often have sinister associations in folklore the world over. In Britain they are linked with war, death and ‘the other world’. Our collective noun for them is ‘a murder of crows’, and in Sweden it is thought that they’re the ghosts of murdered men. They have a slightly more positive press in other cultures; Hindus believe that crows embody the souls of recently deceased relatives, and they make meals for them as offerings to their dear departed. Nonetheless, if not outright fear, there’s a healthy respect for the crow. But what is known about them really? Researchers at Oxford University discovered that some species of crow possess forward planning skills and imagination. In an experiment, a female repeatedly fashioned a curved hook from a straight piece of wire to winkle out food, demonstrating problem solving abilities and tool making skills. There is also evidence to suggest they recognise individual human faces and can remember them. Perhaps it is their intelligence we fear; as our technology-dependent society becomes more advanced, it also becomes increasingly fragile; the wily crow could just be waiting for his chance… Elfrieda Waren