Latest News Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Sadly bird flu is now moving on from sea birds, to other species of birds, including geese, ducks and swans, and the Trust is receiving many calls from the public spotting sick birds. There is no treatment available and sick birds will often die within a day of showing symptoms. We cannot rescue or accept sick birds at the Centre as this would compromise those birds already in our care and could lead to the Centre being forced to shut down. Our advice, painful as it is to give, is to leave the bird and let nature take its course. Do not touch a dead bird or let a dog near it. The local Council is responsible for collecting them in a controlled manner. In some cases you may report findings to DEFRA on 03459 335577 or visit their web site for detailed advice here. *************************** "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... 29th February 2024 We are now approaching the time when we try to release any casualty that has been with us during the winter for a bit longer than normal, due to weather conditions not being favourable. This week Barbara took the Tawny Owl that has been housed in the Undercover Aviary for several weeks. It was flying well and as there was a settled period of fairly dry weather instead of the constant rain of the whole winter, we decided the time was right for it to go. Barbara returned it close to where it was found, but I have no nice picture of it flying away to freedom as it was much too fast and was off before Barbara could get her phone ready. It is so difficult to get a picture of any bird of prey when they are released. They zoom out of the carrier seeming to know where they are going so quickly there really is no time. It was nice to see a fit and healthy bird returning to the wild. We have an assortment of doves and pigeons that had lost feathers after being hit by a car or having been in a tussle with a cat. They have been with us since late autumn but they are all fully feathered except the Collared Dove shown in the picture. He has almost grown back his tail which had completely gone as well as quite a lot of wing feathers. He needs a bit of building up as he has not been able to fly and use his muscles properly. One of the main things we can do for any injured wildlife is give them time. They can have a safe place,  food and water, and time to heal. Our 2025 calendar is focussing on this theme. Giving them Time. We have two Barn Owls that are very nearly ready to go. It is not fair to release these birds in poor weather as they will need to sort out their territory when they are released. It is a bit of a balancing act. We want to release them early enough for them to find a partner and breed but not too soon, if the weather will make it difficult for them to find food. In the wild a Barn Owls life expectancy is very short and we like to give them the best possible chance when we release them. Our three Cygnets are also looking very well. Our overwintering Cygnets are usually released around Easter. This is early this year but the winter has been relatively mild so hopefully the river weed is growing like our grass at home. It always is a worry when releasing youngsters into the wild. We have done what we can for them and then they have to go and fend for themselves. Thankfully the River Tweed has plenty of other young birds to help them out. Our little group of three will probably stay together for the summer. Swans take several years to mature, so they have time to learn river etiquette. Hedgehogs are waking up. Lots of bowls to fill on a daily basis now. Thank goodness for the Hogwards Shed. It has allowed us to keep hedgehogs during the winter in the right temperature so they can be released where they were found as soon as conditions are right. It has also been a very good thing for volunteers too. It’s cold cleaning cages in the shed, but so much easier than doing them outside. At least we have kept dry and out of the wind. Thank you to everyone supporting us with canned food, newspapers, towels and calciworms. Pat Goff 22nd February 2024 Last week we had a look round the Big Room, which is not as big as it once was. We have taken about a quarter of room to build the ‘Claw and Talon’ Room. Where the water tank was we have an aviary, so there is less room to use. We were trying to rearrange things so that we could fit in some more overwintering cages for hedgehogs. The Big Room is cold, sometimes I think it is colder than outside! It is ideal for the overspill from the ‘Hogwards Shed’. We have 28 cages in the shed and another 12 in the Big Room at the moment. We were looking to see if we could fit in another five. The more hedgehogs we can get up to weight so that they can move to cooler conditions the quicker it is for us to release them in the spring. We don’t have to spend time ‘hardening off’ hedgehogs that have been kept in the warm. It gives the hogs time to get used to their new surroundings in the wild before the important task of finding a mate and raising young starts. All sorts of jobs are done in the Big Room. The washing machine and dryer are there. All the washing of buckets and equipment is done there. Foodstuffs are also stored there. We still need to keep room to carry items in and out and to work in the middle of the room. We explored several ways to accommodate the extra cages and with a little rearranging of storage areas, found the space. The cages need to stand on shelving. This makes it easier for volunteers to clean out but also keeps the cages away from draughts on the ground. We explained our plan to Jackie, who agreed the changes would work. We then needed to find the materials to make the stands for the cages. Jackie had put a request on Facebook for worktops and a very nice lady, Stephanie, responded. She was having a new kitchen fitted the following day. Perfect. Jim collected the worktops and on Sunday we ordered the five new cages. It will take Jim and Ian a little time to fit up the stands and to prepare the cages. We put recycled vinyl floor covering on the bottom of the cages to make cleaning easy and they fit a divider to make a bedroom end for the hogs. This is filled with straw for bedding. Adding these cages means we can keep 45 hedgehogs in the cool each winter as soon as they reach the correct weight. This allows them to have a short hibernation, although this winter being so mild, some are only sleeping for short periods in the cold snaps. We are getting more hedgehogs each year. What used to be a small part of our rehabilitating work is rapidly changing. Winter time is now as busy as the summer, and we have to be prepared. The Barn Owl I mentioned last week is now eating for himself and needing out of his cage. He is being moved later to the undercover aviary as the Tawny Owl that has been in there was released on Sunday. The Tawny was a very feisty red. He was fit, up to weight and ready to go. We have two Barn Owls almost ready but we are waiting for a drier period before we release them. This last one has an injured wing so may need a little time yet. Our thanks to Jackie and Debra who took a table at Spittal Community Centre on Saturday and raised £70.00 for us. Pat Goff 15th February 2024 Last week saw even more volunteers unable to come in for various reasons, and as Jackie had just returned from a nasty attack of Covid things were difficult. The remaining volunteers kindly did extra shifts to help out and we got by. The Big Pond had missed the normal clean and change of water time. Normally there are a couple of male volunteers who help with this task. Scrubbing down the sides of the pond and hosing and brushing the bottom to clear out the mucky gunge left after letting out the water. Luckily Wednesday was a lovely day, cold but sunny, so Jackie got to work by herself. She had to deal with it in two sessions with a coffee and sandwich break in the middle, but she managed to start to refill the pond in the afternoon. As the pond is being cleaned the Cygnets have to move to the Small Pond Pen. They have to take turns in the metre square pond. The next morning with Barbara to help they finished filling and final cleaning of the Big Pond and the Cygnets were allowed through the gate. They went absolutely crazy racing through the water from one end of the pond to the other, having a good wash in the nice clean water. Once they had calmed down Jackie took this picture of the three relaxing after their playtime. Jackie and Barbara also attending a Hedgehog First Aid, Care and Rehabilitation Course in Edinburgh. It was It was a full on whole day course and the two ladies went off armed with questions and notebooks. The happy outcome was that we seem to be doing everything the right way. Our record keeping is spot on, and the treatments we give are the best we can get. The way we keep our hogs when in our care is also up to the mark. They did learn a few tips on tick removal and flea treatment and how to spot medical problems in hogs by their behaviour. It was good to get confirmation from the largest hedgehog rehabilitation charity in the country, The Vale Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre who last year looked after nearly 2,000 hedgehogs. It does make The Rollo Centre look a very small unit but these spiky creatures do keep us very busy. On Friday we took in a Barn Owl that had been checked already by the Vet. It had a damaged wing but no fracture. We prepared a cage in the Claw and Talon Room for it and left it two chicks. The following day it had not eaten but had been around the cage. We changed the cage so it was nice and clean and opened up another two chicks. It was a very feisty bird so we thought it would eat on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we found it still had not eaten. We cut up a chick and fed it half. It was very easy to handle so not as fit. It is always a problem with casualties like this that are hard to handle. Force feeding is not good for the bird but sometimes it will pick them up when they know food is there. Hopefully it will eat for itself today. We must say a thank you for all the towels, papers, and canned food people have brought in to us. It is amazing just how many newspapers we use. We must also thank the Salmon Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes who sent us a cheque for £100.00. Donations like this that suddenly appear keep us all going. When our Treasurer called in with a tin of chocolates for us all, they kept us going too. Pat Goff