I set up Herefordshire Wildlife Rescue because, despite being one of England's most wildlife-rich counties, there is no wildlife rescue centre, hospital or rehabiliation unit in this stunning county.
Animals are often put to sleep which stand perfectly good chances in the wild after a period of rest, recuperation and TLC because vets have no one to take them on after first aid. It all started when a local vet (John Bell, Holmer Surgery) with whom I now work closely, and without whom I could not do this work, asked me to care for a young owl...
At first I cared for around 1 animal every few months. and in 2014 I took around one call a week. I now take between 1 and ten calls a day depending on the season, I have not exactly counted to date, but by June this year, I had taken over 1000 calls on my personal number about wildlife.
I do not discriminate on the basis of how rare a species is and have cared, with equal diligence (if not equal excitement) for goshawks, manx shearwaters, lesser spotted woodpeckers (all rare) and
pheasants, hedgehogs, jackdaws, owls, rabbits and squirrels.
After 20 years of working in wildlife conservation education, in other words, trying to persuade people to take care of wildlife, (on television, in print, setting up a charity), I find it intoxicating when a member of the public lifts a broken animal from the side of the road, or the jaws of a cat, or under a hedge and goes out of their way, sometimes a long way, to bring it to me, or get it the help it needs. Having funded the work myself so far, I am now tentatively starting the process of fund raising for the centre.
There is much to do including improving the accommodation of animals that cannot be released, I am mentored and deeply grateful to many highly experienced rehabiliators and academics, including at the EGI (birds) at Oxford University, Vale Wildlife, Gillian Westray (swifts), Tiggywinkles, Fauna Rescue, and many more.
I have had builders, office workers, children, the elderly, a sheep farmer with a fox, the ex-master of a local hunt, all bring me injured or orphaned animals. Every animal is fascinating and to me compelling and beautiful. When you see them up close, sparrows, buzzards, even rabbits look completely different, their feathers and fur patterned in minute detail.
My brain has expanded every day doing this work, learning veterinary techniques, natural history, behavioural clues. I am humbled by the lessons these animals teach me every day.
My vision is to harness the compassion people show for that helpless, vulnerable creature, and the fascination they have seeing them up close, to engender change in the habitat, encouraging people to plant trees, buy organic, use less chemicals, be mindful of how they kill rodents, drive with more care and otherwise find ways to live alongside and even nurture wildlife in their own human lives.
I have always looked after sick and injured wild animals and now undertake Wildlife rescue care and rehabilitation in my home county of Herefordshire in collaboration with Holmer Park and Leadon Vale Vets. I have also completed the British Hedgehog Preservation Society's Hedgehog Carer's course run by Vale Widllife Hospital and am a registered Hedgehog carer and have first aid medical kit to deal with dehydrated, exhausted, young or injured hedgehogs.
If you find a young bird, follow the RSPB advice and generally leave well alone as the parents are nearby, if you find a sick or injured animal needing help please contact Sasha@siren.org.uk or text 07802 460884.
Thanks for your interest in my work.
Here's my recent radio interview with BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester's Andrew Easton when we discussed the re-homing of hedgehogs.
Here's my recent radio interview with Absolute Radio, talking about otters, seagulls and the Herefordshire Wildlife Rescue
Thank you Leadon Vale and Holmer Park Vets, to all the staff and clients from all the wild animals you helped this year!