Whooper Swans Rescued

Note from DOS to its members
Members will have read in recent bird notes that more than 50 Whooper Swans have used Middleton Moor as a staging post during February and March as they headed back northwards. Most moved on successfully leaving around a dozen behind but by mid­April we were alerted by DOS member Mick Lacey that not all was well with these birds. Indeed, two had died and Mick solicited the help of the RSPCA but to no avail. The latter seemed not to know the difference between sedentary Mute Swans and migrating Whoopers and none of the sick birds could be caught. Happily, an approach to Tim Birch of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust invoked an instant response and thanks to Tim and DWT staff, together with other helpers, seven of the birds were secured and taken to the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Centre near York. A boat and a canoe were put to good use and the birds that could not fly were safely shepherded to the shore and safely captured. Later, two more were recovered and one of the birds was found to have been ringed in Iceland. We will await further details of the latter. Whilst commending Tim, Mick and the others, it also worthy of note that the site owners (British Fluorspar) were both cooperative and helpful, as well as being genuinely concerned about the birds. Two dead swans are being examined by government laboratories but it seems clear that the birds had ingested something poisonous. The company is keen to discuss all of this sad situation in the hope that future problems can be avoided if possible. Both Sheffield Bird Study Group and DOS are making donations of £100 to the rescue centre and a similar sum has also arrived from an anonymous donor. This will certainly help towards the costs involved in keeping and treating the birds. The whole was a stressful period for those involved but if we have saved six of these special birds, which only pass through our county, then it will have been a splendid effort by everyone involved

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