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What makes a good volunteer.

I arrived home at 6am after a twelve hour night shift and by 7am I was fast asleep. At 10am I heard someone leave a message on the answer phone. As I had three eagle owl chicks on rescue to feed anyway I got up and fed the chicks and checked the message. It was about a sparrowhawk that had been stuck in a warehouse in St. Ives near Cambridge for two days. I phoned the firm and gave them the number of another prominent raptor charity who does it for a living, as they were less than five minutes down the road. Unfortunately they had already refused to go out. Although it was raining hard I loaded the car and my wife and I set out on the hour’s journey it would take.

Upon arriving I inspected the scene. Typical, 25ft.high and the size of a football pitch. I put my net and extension poles together and began the chase. If you can imagine, a rotund gent (not built for running) rushing up and down with a net on a 25ft. pole stuck up in the air, it makes for quite a humorous sight.

After an hour my arms and legs were killing me and so I managed to enlist the help of a member of their staff. I now stood down one end with the net and he stood up the other, clapping his hands and waving his arms if the bird went up there, not allowing it to land. The bird was only allowed to land at my end, which gave me a chance to try and net it. On two occasions I got it in the net but it escaped before I could close it, but finally after another hour it was exhausted and allowed me to catch it.

It was a female and although quite thin and very tired it was fine, but because of its condition I decided to take it back to my hospital to recover.
I put the bird in a hospital unit and after 24hrs. it had eaten well on a quail and so I transferred it to a seclusion aviary. I knew it could fly well, trust me! and so after another 24hrs. I took it back and released it. It is always best to release a bird where it was found if possible, especially at this time of year as it is probably feeding young.

Although this took four hours travelling in total and another two hours to catch it, I know it was worth it. As proved in other such cases, if it had been left to its own devices it would almost certainly have died of starvation.

This story shows the difference between a group that does rescue work for a living and a group of volunteers like ourselves. We do things because we want to not because we are paid to.

I like to pride myself in thinking Fenlands Bird of Prey Rescue would come out if at all possible not only if it is convenient.

Full address: "Clareview", Sutton Road, Leverington, Wisbech, PE13 5DU
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