Latest News "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... 16th September 2021 It was very sad news I received this week when I went down to the David Rollo Centre. The little hog that I photographed for last week’s column, to show the damage a strimmer could do, had died. He had a wound all round his nose and he was wheezy, but we hoped he  would make it. His lungs were damaged so badly the antibiotics were not enough to save him. It is one of the downsides to being a  volunteer. You do get attached to animals you are caring for and it is upsetting when they die. We have, in the last couple of weeks, had several Guillemots brought in after  they were found on the beach. These birds are always on the point of death.  When they come in to us their finders will happily tell us there doesn’t seem to  be anything wrong with them. The birds sit unmoving seemingly quite happy but  the poor things must be terrified. They don’t want to be picked up by anyone,  they are just too sick to do anything else. We do our best to help them, giving  them a safe space with food and water, but invariably they die within twenty four  hours. The fact is that whatever the animal or bird is if it can be caught it is very  sick or badly injured so perhaps half of of the casualties brought in to us will not  survive. All we can do is do our best.  I think I have been depressing enough now, as I am hoping we can recruit  another couple of volunteers, I better tell of the upsides of volunteering. Stephen  has got a job so is leaving his regular volunteering shift. We all wish him good  luck. Cynthia is off to Bristol university where we wish her all the best. She will  be back during the holidays. So if you would like to come and help us please ring  the David Rollo Centre 01289 302882 for details. We like to have a group of volunteers working in the morning for just a couple of hours  followed by a coffee and biscuit. Usually three people work together. It is mainly cleaning and feeding. I’m afraid we have very few  cuddly casualties although some of the tiny orphans are nice. If you would be interested in joining us please phone and we will talk you  through what to do. When a casualty comes in we have to guess what has caused any injury or how it came to be where it was found. As time goes on we  learn what some of the signs are. For example, a pigeon or blackbird with wounds to the back and tail feathers missing is nearly always a cat attack. It is very satisfying to see wounded animals recover slowly and finally get released. Likewise, a helpless tiny baby that has  been hand reared and will be able to lead a proper life in the wild makes up for all the work that goes in to it.  Anyone wanting to  volunteer must understand that if a casualty is so badly injured it cannot be released it has to be put to sleep. The Vet always has the  final word. We are happy to go along with any treatment plan suggested by the Vet even if it takes a long time. The hedgehog in the photo this week has been in our care for several weeks. It also had a nasty strimmer wound. It was injured along  the base of its spine leaving a deep infected wound. We have been cleaning the wound and administering antibiotics and the wound now is slowly healing. Hopefully this is one that will survive.  Pat Goff 9th September 2021 We are now getting in the hedgehogs that were born in June and July, that have found it difficult for one reason or another to cope. We  have a lot of heat-pads in use for these youngsters that are well under 400 grams. They will probably have to be with us right through  the winter. This brings me to talk about the new shed for overwintering hedgehogs.  These sheds, especially the larger ones like we need, have to  be ordered some considerable time in advance. The one we have on order will not be delivered until late October. Hopefully, the weather  will not be too bad then for Jim and his team to get it erected and fitted out before we start to need it around December. Any hog that  has not reached its release weight before the end of September, will stay with us through the winter but once it reaches a safe  hibernating weight will be moved to a cooler room, and then allowed to sleep  through the worst of the winter. This is where the new shed will come in handy. In previous years we have had  individual hutches outside in Hotchi Mews where we put the hedgehogs to  hibernate. This meant that every morning the lid to each hut had to be lifted to  check on the dried food and the water always provided in case the hog woke up.  They frequently do this throughout hibernation. A bit like having a midnight  snack. Once awake their bodily functions work and there is a mess to clean up.  When it is frosty, or in icy cold conditions, this is an awful job to do. With up to  twenty five hutches to check with snow on the ground it is a job none of us  relish. The new shed will contain twenty six huts that will be perfect for sleeping  hedgehogs. Although the shed will not be heated at least we (the volunteers) will be able to check them daily, undercover, and when they need cleaning they will  have protection from what, in the winter, seems to be a biting wind that always  blows around the Rollo Centre. Hopefully this new hut will be a great asset, as we were getting to the point of having to renew the hutches. They do not last many  wet winters. They will not go to waste, however, as Jim will use parts of some to  repair others. Once the hogs wake in the spring, fortunately, they don’t all wake up together, they can be transferred to the repaired huts to get plenty of fresh air before release. We have two hogs in, both with strimmer injuries. One is a little too badly injured to use as a photograph here. It was struck right across  the lower part of it’s back. The injury is quite deep but the hog is such a brave little thing. She is eating and putting on weight a little.  She is on antibiotics as the wound is healing, although very slowly. She is having the wound treated several times a week. The other one  was much luckier. The picture this week shows he has a very sore nose and some of the prickles on his neck and all down one side have  been chopped short by a strimmer. Half an inch closer and the machine would have split him open all down the side. He has a chest  infection but hopefully we can get him through this. So please take care before using a strimmer.   Finally a thank you to Stewart who has been keeping us free of vermin and other pest this year. We are very grateful for his assistance. Pat Goff 2nd September 2021 Dick managed to release the last of the young gulls last week, but he had quite an audience when he took them. There were several  families already out on the beach, going round the rock pools with bandy nets. He takes them where there are plenty of opportunities for  them to find shellfish and little fish or crabs so they can feed themselves. The rock pools are ideal release sites. Kay always brought  them back a selection of shellfish when she walked her dogs on the beach so as they grew up they knew they were tasty bites. They all  loved playing with the shells even when they were empty. They would drop them in the pond and then go in and fish them out again. It  was all good practice for the time they would have to fend for themselves. Now at last we can give their pen a good scrub and disinfect  as their poo is almost impossible to clean off especially when its been baked in the sun. Even though the pen was brushed and hosed  twice a day it was difficult to keep it clean.  The picture shows a bird we had in last weekend. Holidaymakers travelling up the  coast on their way to Aberdeen had found this little bird sitting at the side of the  road. They looked it up and identified it as a Little Grebe or as Kay called it a Dab  Chick. There was no water close by so they were sure something was wrong. They  phoned us just before 12 o’clock on Sunday morning just as we were preparing to  leave the Rollo Centre. They were then just about at Morpeth. I arranged for them  to drop the little bird off at my house as they would be driving almost past my door.  I had just got home and had a quick cuppa when they arrived. How nice some  people are, not minding the trouble they take when they see a bird or animal  needing help. They had the Little Grebe carefully packed in a box with a towel to lie  on. When I took him out he seemed lively enough having a good go at stabbing me  with his pointed beak. I transferred him to the plastic carrier I had brought home  for the purpose, and gave him a bowl with water tiny whitebait, mealworms and  other grubs he might like. I then left him in the garage in the quiet. The  holidaymakers were pleased to know their responsibility for the little bird were over  and set off on the next stage of their journey. The next morning the bowl was  empty of everything including the water which he had tipped over the carrier. When we examined him there seemed nothing wrong he  just somehow got in the wrong place. We never know how these things happen. He was able to eat and move well so he was released  and Dick showed us some lovely video of him racing along in the water and bathing. It is always the first thing any water bird does when  it is released. It must be like a prisoner washing off the smell of prison.  Our hedgehog population at the centre is building up now. We have young ones being brought in weighing just two or three hundred  grams. We have a couple of larger ones with skin conditions that need to be cleared up before they can be released. One poor hog is still  being treated for a horrid strimmer wound across its back end. It has to be treated every other day but is finally getting to look better. It  is eating well so we want to do all we can for it. As gardeners are now tidying up and strimming down summer growth please have a look for hedgehogs first. They are the gardeners friend. Pat Goff