One of the busiest animal rescue centres in the country is working overtime this winter to make sure its fluffy, furry and feathered residents are kept safe and sound against the threat of seasonal storms.
The New Arc wildlife sanctuary in Ellon, which cares for injured, sick or abandoned animals from all across Scotland, is working hard to make sure its enclosures are completely weatherproof and ready for any eventuality, be it gale-force winds, blizzards or rainstorms.
On December 15, the centre felt the wrath of Storm Deirdre, with gusts of 80mph ripping apart the centre’s pen for Polly the pig, and severely damaging an aviary containing an injured redwing, a young magpie, four pigeons and a sparrow.
Thankfully, staff at New Arc intervened, and braved the winds to save the birds.
Flo Blackbourn and Kevin Newell said the team was preparing for a drop in temperature which could make their jobs of caring for the centre’s creatures even more difficult.
Volunteers from around the Ellon area have been giving up their time to make sure enclosures such as the “Whiskers Wednesday”cat home where movie nights take place every week, and the “House of Commons” facility for injured common gulls are safe.
Ms Blackbourn said the winter period often presented troublesome challenges.
She said: “We’ve had power cuts, times we couldn’t get fuel delivered, but the worst part about the bad weather during winter really is the high winds.
“It gets so bad that in one period, one of the aviaries nearly took off – we had to hold it down to stop it blowing away, and it was full of baby birds.
“Storms and bad weather can be really bad for all animals, but birds of prey particularly suffer a lot because they’re so light, and get blown into pylons – and rain really stops them from being able to hunt.”
Mr Newell said: “Our rehabilitation rate is around 70%, which is fantastic, and that I believe is due to our staff being here 24/7.
“There are a lot of success stories, but we also deal with a lot of heartache and a lot of tears here.
“As much as it’s great to help these animals, you see the worst of the worst – poor things that have been attacked or shot by people, hit by cars, attacked by dogs, even just seabirds who come in wrapped in plastic.”
To find out more, visit www.thenewarc.org
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