A buzzard took an unexpected flight on Saturday (23rd July) when she was transported by air between two wildlife hospitals. The bird was taken in by East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) earlier on in the week. She was found grounded at the rear of the caller’s property. They managed to secure her and then took her to WRAS’s hospital in Whitesmith, East Sussex.
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks MBE and Casualty Centre Manager Chris Riddington assessed the buzzard’s condition on arrival. “The buzzard was in overall good body condition, she was slightly underweight, but that was to be expected from being grounded,” explained Trevor, “When feeling the wings, it became clear something wasn’t right as I could feel crepitus indicating a fracture was likely” added Trevor. First aid was administered, the wings secured to avoid any further damage and booked in for an X-ray at Henley House Vets in Uckfield, which revealed a fractured humerus.
“The fracture was not in the best position but the degree of trauma around the fracture was limited a possibly a candidate for surgical pinning,” said Trevor. Trevor got in contact with Caroline Gould and their vet Tim Partridge at Vale Wildlife Hospital in Gloucestershire. “As the operation would not be straight forwards it clearly needed a person with experience to undertake the operation. So we asked Vale if they would be able to take on our Buzzard and undertake the operation,” explained Trevor, “Vale and their team have more experience than most at undertaking these kind of operations and also have the added advantage of not having to go into a domestic vet practice with the added stress that may cause during recovery”.
Buzzards need large enclosures to aid their recovery after such operations and WRAS do not have facilities for long term care for such large birds of prey. “It’s only in the last five or six years we have started to get so many larger birds of prey come into care here. Thankfully Vale have amazing facilities to accommodate these birds and have offered their help” explained Chris.
Vale have agreed to operate on the buzzard today (25 July) and WRAS had to do was to get it down to them. “Trevor and I have been to Vale via road numerous times and its quite a drive. The last time we went it took over 10 hours on a round trip,” said Chris, “During discussions on who was going to drive, Trevor mentioned that a friend of his and Marine Mammal Medic, Graham Mountford, is a pilot and had flown seals to various places when Trevor was National Co-ordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue.”
Trevor on the off chance messaged Graham and asked if he would be interesting in flying their buzzard from Shoreham Airport to Gloucestershire and he readily accepted the challenge. Saturday morning Chris collected the Buzzard from WRAS’s hospital and drove the short 30-minute journey to the airport. “The staff at the airport were amazing, they waivered all of the landing fees and treated us like VIPs, the staff even paid my parking as I didn’t have enough change,” explained Chris. Shortly after 9am Graham, who had ironically flown down from Leighton Buzzard, landed and the buzzard was secured on-board for his 40-minute flight to Vale. After safely landing at Gloucestershire Graham and Chris were met at the gate by Vales Vet Nurse Lucy Kells and the buzzard was transferred safely into their care.
“This has saved the buzzard hours in a hot car stuck on a motorway and saved a lot of stress. It’s amazing how it all came together and WRAS are extremely grateful to Graham, Vale Wildlife Rescue, Shoreham and Gloucester Airports for giving this poor buzzard the best possible fighting chance. It has been so nice to see so many people come together to help our wildlife,” said Trevor.