Hampden Park Cygnets 14th Aug 2015 (3)

For the third time in a row we have had to step in and help the cygnets at Decoy Pond, Hampden Park in Eastbourne.  Each brood of cygnets has become ill as a result of a parasite which is in the lake. It is a natural parasite which you will find in most freshwater pond, but for some reason it is more of a problem here than anywhere else. In 2008 we were called in after several cygnets died and even dad died, and the remaining cygnets were rescued for fear of an illness or disease. The Swan Sanctuary then identified a parasite which had caused the emaciation and illness. The pond was then void of swans until 2014 except for the occasional visitors which decided not to stay very long. The current pair of adults had their first young there last year, and in early September the Swan Sanctuary asked WRAS to step in after a cygnet died and a post mortem examination showed a very heavy parasite burden causing emaciation and malnutrition as the cause of death.  The five remaining cygnets were caught and were all suffering from emaciation and sadly one died. This year we have been monitoring the cygnets much more closely. One was lost a couple of weeks ago, but the cause was unclear. WRAS started receiving calls Thursday last week to say the cygnets were looking lethargic, so we decided to catch a couple of the cygnets and check them over.  I managed to catch the first one from the bank using a net. I was very surprised at how little fight the cygnet put up, but when I lifted him up to check his weight he was only 3.2kg. Chris managed to catch the second by hand and this one also was underweight but much lighter at 2.65kg. Working together we then managed to catch the remaining cygnets which were 3kg, 4.15kg and 4.65kg. They were all taken straight up to the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton for specialist veterinary help. The smallest one was given IV fluids and we are waiting to see if he survives. The others are being treated and hopefully will not recover and start improving. Faecal analysis undertaken at WRAS’s Casualty Centre showed a very high level of parasite eggs present.11892002_1004031302975106_2306723184743176214_n

Hampden Park Cygnets 14th Aug 2015 (2)Many people have asked us what can be done to stop this problem. I’m no expert in this field, and I’m referring the council to the Swan Sanctuary for more detailed information and advice.  We know the Friends of Hampden Park and Eastbourne Borough Council have spent a lot of money on the pond over the past 6 years to improve the water quality and depth and I know they are disappointed that these efforts have not stopped the problem from occurring.  Hopefully a solution can be found.

decoy pond hampden park kathy with cygnetWRAS is going to seek permission from Natural England to catch and treat the cygnets next year with a view to undertake faecal analysis, then catch, treat and release them hopefully without the need for them to then being rescued and taken in to care so poorly.

Other rescues this week have included a badger found curled up behind a washing machine in Staple Cross near Robertsbridge; a baby stock dove in Polegate High Street; a road casualty hedgehog near the Cuilfail Tunnel at Lewes; a hedgehog fallen into a pond in Eastbourne and many more.decoy pond hampden park Trevor kathy cygnet ambulance

Huge thank you to Cliffe Veterinary Group, for very kindling donating £560 to East Sussex WRAS which is a third of the funds raised at their recent open day in Lewes.

Hampden Park Cygnets 14th Aug 2015 (1)In September we will be holding our second Indoor Nature Trail after the success of last year’s event. The event is free of charge and visitors can learn about our amazing local wildlife and the groups which help them. There will be various stalls as well as guest lectures throughout the day. This year we have some returning speakers, as well as some brand new ones, so come down to East Dean village hall on the 19th to experience it for yourself! We will have refreshments available throughout the day, as well as a vegetarian pasta dish served between 12pm and 2pm for a donation.  You can stay all day, see all the lectures and stalls or just pop in for a few hours and see a particular lecture. No booking required just turn up between 10am and 5pm.

Update:  The smallest of the cygnets rescued at Decoy Pond Hampden Park, sadly died Sunday morning.

decoy pond hampden park

About Trevor Weeks

Trevor Weeks MBE Operations Director for East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) Trevor started undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work in 1985 when just 13 years old, and his life has been dedicated to the care of wildlife ever since. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was established as a voluntary group in 1996 and became a registered charity in 2005. WRAS now has four veterinary ambulances and a Casualty Care Centre on the A22 between Hailsham and Uckfield capable of looking after up to 200 casualties at a time. The charity is primarily run by volunteers and relies of donations to fund its award winning life saving service.