As a fairly smallish swan rescue organisation, over the years we have none the less dealt with the full range of usual swan related problems, as well as the unique UK situation of white phosphorus poisoning at Rattlechain lagoon.
There are the usual plethora of angling issues that could have been avoided, powerline strikes, dog attacks, as well as wanton vandalism.
One of the oddist cases in recent times involved a report of a swan that had got “a sandwich bag label” in its mouth. To set the scene, there are several pools in the multi cultural borough of Sandwell, of varying cleanliness and civic pride, and knowing this one, if chappati chucking were an Olympic sport, then there would be considerable local Great British success. Sandwell council likes to boast about the number of Green flags awarded at its sites by Keep Britain Tidy, though you can sometimes wonder if the white stripe, crescent moon and star had been inadvertently missed off the design before being hoisted based on the culinary garnishes at lakeside.
Anyway, the swan. It soon became apparent that “the sandwich bag label” was in fact, a clothing label. Someone somewhere was missing the small fairly useless itch patch off their y fronts or knickers. I was fairly confident that the bird had not swallowed the whole garment! The cotton part of the attachment had been swallowed forming what is called in the wildfowl rescue trade “a chin strap”. This is when a bird swallows fishing line, but sometimes string or nylon and both ends go down the gullet leaving a loop under the chin. This will eventually get tighter and tighter cutting into the mandible to the point where it would ultimately sever the beak off. It would also block the passage of food and birds could die from starvation.
In this case the line had been swallowed leaving the label sticking out under the chin. On catching it, I was able to remove the cotton string which had on the end of it a large glut of weed and food that could not be swallowed. On examining the faded label which gave instruction on how I could have machine washed the hapless creature, I turned the other side and after initially thinking out loud “bloody typical” , could not help sensing some form of amusement from the situation as the bird was released unharmed to carry on with the bargie bonanza on offer that day. “MADE IN BANGLADESH”- Always read the label.