British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2006-09-04 12:12:05

BDMLR Medics help with Swan Rescue - Eastbourne

BDMLR medics were called to help East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) and the Outwood Swan Sanctuary with a swan rescue at Decoy lake, Hampden Park, Eastbourne on Monday.

Volunteer rescuers took the unusual step of removing the four adult swans for their own safety and to have them checked over after 6 out of 8 cygnets rescued recently from the site by WRAS died from internal parasitic damage - leeches and worms.

A large scale operation was organised by WRAS on Monday in order to catch the four remaining adult swans. The team of 9 volunteers include BDMLR medics Stephen Marsh, Alison Hague, Helen Overington, Kevin Harlow and David Rowlinson. The team used seven inflatable boats which were used to gently encourage the swans into an enclosed area of lake. Nets were used to block off escape routes either side of the two islands. The operation took over 2 hours and lead to the four adult swans - mum, dad and two of the previous years cygnets - being relocated to Prince's Park in Eastbourne after a check over.

The swans had to remove because of the severity of the problems which this years cygnets had suffered. Rescuers at the National Swan Sanctuary were horrified when only two of the eight cygnets rescued last month had survived. Rescuers had been trying to catch the adults as they believe the lake is too unhealthy for them to stay at and there was no easy way to establish whether they could have been suffering too without catching them.

The internal parasite problems encountered by the cygnets, rescued last month, is not easy to identify from just looking at the birds and you only gain an idea as to whether they have a problem once you have caught them. The problem is only affecting the swans as they are 'bottom feeders' and spend alot of time sifting through the silt and leaflitter at the bottom of the pond, the duck don't do this as much as the swans.

This parasite problem is due to the environmental problems at the lake which has slowly filled up with leaf litter and silt over the years and is becoming shallower and shallower all the time. Nobody has cleared the lake for years. In places the lake is only a couple of inches deep with water but over 4ft of silt. As a result the shallow water heats up during the summer which leads to these parasites and other potentially fatal problems occurring at the lake.

East Sussex WRAS has written to Eastbourne Borough Council asking for an investigated of the lake and for Steve Knight of the National Swan Sanctuary to be called in by the council to investigate possible short term ways in which the site could be made safe for the waterfowl which reside on the lake.

East Sussex WRAS would like to thank BDMLR, the Outwood Swan Sanctuary and the National Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton for there help, advice and support with this rescue.

Trevor Weeks
Rescue Co-ordinator - East Sussex WRAS
National Co-ordinator - BDMLR