Thursday, 18 June 2009

Kingfisher Rescue

Never a dull moment at Bag End . . . but I did say at the outset that one of our aims was to make the garden a wildlife haven, so I cannot complain when wildlife do wild things.

07.30 - Kingfisher doesn't look like she moved much in the night, but still alive. Took some of the covers off in case she wanted to get out of the cage.

08.15 - phoned Terry at Wetheriggs. He advised picking up the bird and trying to help her fly off. Because Kingfishers normally launch from perches they find it very difficult to get off the ground.
This did not work, she sat still in my hand and when I moved her gently to the edge of my fingers to see if she would gain a perch, she tumbled forwards and landed (fortunately) on long grass.

08.30 - Explained this to Terry who asked if I could bring her to Clifton as he was out trying to save a buzzard. The early start surprised the heck out of Hairy One, but we got to Wetheriggs for just after 10.00.

Terry had just returned and swiftly examined our bird, confirmed she is a young female, born this year. He could feel that her wishbone was broken which is why she could not use her wings, but that she was in good health. In expectation of our arrival, a packet of prawns had already been purchased. As James said in the update he posted (thanks James), Kingfisher are quite partial to a fresh prawn or three! He gently put the meat into her beak and stroked her crop, I learnt it is important that she swallowed it herself. After 5 minutes quietly back in the little box I'd transported her in, we saw that she had eaten.

Now it is a waiting game. If she continues to eat then within a week or so she ought to be recovered sufficiently that she can be released back near Bag End. Kingfishers are very territorial and it is important she is put back where she came from if there is any chance of her breeding next year. We'll work out the details of that later, either I will go and get her, or one of Terry's staff lives a few miles north of here and he will bring her over and I can go and watch the release.

After a coffee and a dog-walk around the car park, I went back into Wetheriggs, this time as a paying visitor and had a lovely hour looking at pigs, ponies and peacocks and some gorgeous pygmy goats, amongst others.

Accompanied by one of the staff, I went back to the area where Miss Kingfisher was being kept and had a final look at her, and my "reward" for today's good deed was a 10 minute play with this darling fox cub.
The room was quite dim and she moves like greased lightening - difficult photography conditions!
I know when the Bag End hens are here I won't think foxes are gorgeous, but this one thinks she is a puppy, has no fear of humans and loves to be cuddled and tickled. Her story is that police found a group of men digging up a den, they had dogs with them and this is the only cub found alive. Terry has hand-reared her since she was about 3 weeks old (she is now 3 months) and she can never be released, she's too imprinted. She will still have a valuable life however, going to schools when he gives talks and helping to educate children and adults.
She is only in her cage when there's no-one around to play with her
This badger cub was found suckling its dead mother - road kill. It is not being handled at all and will be released as soon as it is old enough to survive alone.

Wetheriggs is a lovely place, and the only wild animal rescue in this part of Cumbria. Like all such organisations, they survive on donations and volunteers and it is obvious from meeting the staff that everyone cares very much about what they do. If you can visit the site (great cafe) or support them in any way, please do so.

I'll post an update on Miss Kingfisher as soon as I hear anything.

A quick stop at Birds' Bistro to stock up on Sunflower Hearts and a longer stop at Blackstock Point on Bassenthwaite so that Hairy One could have a short walk and a paddle. Got home just after 2.00 . . . by the time I'd eaten and done this there was not much of the afternoon left, and I have to go into town for food shopping! Not much time left for gardening.


  1. It might not have been the day you planned on having but it sounds like it ws a very enjoyable one.

    Let's hope the Kingfisher will soon be going home, he seems to be in the right place for now.

  2. What a lovely place Weatherells is Bilbo. Pity we didn't find it last year when we visited you.

    Glad Miss Kingfisher is in good hands and feeding.

  3. I'm sure that you'll be able to give us an update on how Miss Kingfisher is this morning, Bilbo - in the meantime, a day of extremely cute animals - rather than gardening - will no doubt have done you a power of good.

    Now, where's your spade and fork...? {grin}

  4. Hi Jayne, Just had a very enjoyable catch-up and fingers are firmly crossed for your young kingfisher's recovery. How lucky that it managed to get into your garden! Looks like it's all go on the sowing and planting front ,,, Woo Hoo! Thanks for your lovely email and I will reply! Jill

  5. PS How lucky that it managed to get into your garden and you spotted it!

  6. Angela, you are right. It was not the day I planned but it was pleasant nonetheless!

    Granny, you would never have found it by accident - quite a way from where you were staying/visiting.

    Hazel, I am not going to constantly phone Wetheriggs much as I would like to {LOL}. I'll call early next week.

    Jill, brill to hear from you. AH has been giving me updates on you LOL, don't feel you are obliged to email as well! It is exceptionally lucky I spotted the Kingfisher - went to empty the kitchen scraps bin onto the compost heap and noticed it on the way back, I'm not usually outside at that time of evening.

    Am now seriously looking at where/how we relocate all the bird feeders. I thought they were close enough to the windows to minimise/avoid strikes but obviously not. They either need to be much closer, or much further away. (Although it begs the question what the *?*? was a Kingfisher doing around garden bird feeders in the first place?)


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