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A Wonderful Woman’s Wildlife Haven

I guess most of you folk who read this column do something to help wildlife and you mustn’t underestimate the contribution you are making; however, I was recently advised by Jim Neary that he had found an injured woodcock which he had taken to a wonderful woman in Thirsk who ran a haven for wildlife.

The lady’s name is Krista Langley and she runs the Wildlife Haven in Thirsk (www.thewildlifehaven.org) where she has devoted an entire room of the small home she shares with her husband and five kids as a wildlife hospital. Her philosophy seems to be, “if it needs her help, then help it will get.” That means nothing is turned away and she does her best for every creature, be it commonplace or unusual. When I visited, for example, there was a feral pigeon, two tawny owls, a duck called Maggie and numerous hedgehogs. Krista told me that hedgehogs are really suffering and last summer was a disaster for them because whilst they had access to plenty of slugs the slugs passed on an intestinal worm which can be fatal. Why the duck is called Maggie I have no idea, it is probably there at the Thrisk Wildlife Haven for life because it has lost its lower beak and to release it back into the wild would put it at risk of further trauma to her tongue and subsequent infection. Maggie’s current best friend is an injured rabbit. The hedgehogs are all curled up, hibernating in individual cages, but at least one of the two tawny owls is in a poor way after probably being hit by a car. In summer Krista tells me that the front room would look quite different, no hedgehogs but instead full of baby birds and that means Krista has to devote many hours to feeding, some as frequent as every 20 minutes. How wonderful is that?

Expensive Commitment – You can help

All this care and commitment costs money, however, and Krista is struggling to keep the wildlife hospital open. She is applying to become a charity which means she can claim gift aid and other benefits, but she still has this huge sum to find and currently much of it is coming out of her family’s own pocket. Fortunately there are ways you can help and a visit to the website will detail them, but here are some of her major needs. Money, of course, antibiotics cost around £50 for a small bottle, the number of animals she treats means she urgently needs a new incubator. She needs people willing to collect injured animals and take them to Thirsk. Krista promises this won’t involve capturing them and normally involves moving them in a cardboard box. Release sites are urgently needed for release of anything from hedgehogs to hares, bats to badgers, preferably near open country and with a commitment to continue to feed animals until they are fully integrated back into living in the wild. Krista also goes into schools and gives talks to societies about her work too. You may not be able to run your own wildlife hospital but you can help Krista keep hers going. Jim Neary’s woodcock made a good recovery, it was thin and emaciated but otherwise OK, and after a good feed and some TLC was able to be released back into the wild.

Bird Brained Family Fun

Visitors to the National Trust’s Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal can expect to enjoy lots of bird themed activities this half term. To coincide with National Nest Box Week, families visiting the World Heritage Site over half term will be able to make their own bird boxes in craft workshops on Wednesday, February 20, Thursday 21 and Friday, 22. This is the perfect time of year to put up a nest box in your garden and provide clean, warm environments for many species of wild birds to start their families. Places are limited and boxes cost £5 each to make, to book call 01765 643197. Bird brain feathery fun will also be on offer in Swanley Grange learning centre every day throughout half term week, along with a themed trail which will take families around the estate hunting for clues. Join a gentle two mile wildlife wander with an expert guide on Sunday, February 17 at 2pm. And enjoy the first in a new monthly series of child-paced family nature walks on Saturday, March 2. This month, discover more about bird life on the estate using all your senses. Meet at the visitor centre at 2pm. For further information, please call the estate office on 01765 608888 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/fountainsabbey