A bird charity has very little time to save itself, and the thousands of injured gulls it cares for.
Bird Aid‘s sanctuary in Hailsham, East Sussex, houses 250 attacked or injured birds at any one time, including 100 permanent residents.
It needs £170,000 to buy the land it’s on, after an investor pulled out.
Owner Julia Gould said: “We need help, time is nearly out. We’re the only gull rescue centre in the country, we’re vital, without us thousands will die.”
“I know they have a reputation for stealing people’s food, but they’re not nasty birds and they have no talons, no hooked beak, no weapons,” Mrs Gould said.
“It’s a shame Brighton or Sussex doesn’t adopt them as our county bird and do more to appreciate and protect them.
“The seaside wouldn’t be the same without them.”
Bird Aid began in Eastbourne at the home of Julia and Ian Gould. Julia had worked with garden birds and gulls for many years and decided to set up a separate charity dedicated to gulls. They had aviaries in the garden and four learning disabled adults who came for work experience. The facilities were limited so they decided to look for a bigger property. A large factor in their decision was an urgent need to give their, much loved, blind gull a better life by building him a bespoke aviary.
One of the Trustees said he wanted to give some of his own money to the Gould’s so that a larger place could be purchased. He said he was fully supportive of Julia’s work with the gulls and wanted Bird Aid to help as many gulls as possible. After a long search they found Hydeaway, which was perfect for the birds and would provide plenty of work for Learning-Disabled volunteers too. Hydeaway is set on a two-acre site which now has superb facilities that cannot be bettered by any rescue centre.
After a change in circumstances we have had to come to an agreement that Bird Aid has one year to raise enough money to buy this person out. If the money cannot be raised, then this centre of excellence for gulls all over Southern England will close.
Herring gulls are on the RSBPs red list for threatened birds, as the species has seen a sharp decrease in population over last 25 years.
Mrs Gould has been operating the centre for eight years and said she has seen some horrific injuries to the seaside birds.
One came in with a broken leg, wing and ribs after being “beaten to near death” by a man in Eastbourne. t recovered but due to neurological damage can never be released back into the wild.
“People attack them, throw them into bins, it’s horrendous,” she said.
Gulls from across the country are taken to Bird Aid, and people from all over the world ring Mrs Gould for advice on caring for injured gulls.
“People call them a nuisance, but they adapt to us. They’re not wanted on the beach, we keep building hotels, houses, towns on the beachfront and they’re not wanted there either.
“They need to live somewhere. They have a right to be here, and be treated kindly.”
If you would like to help you can donate here: Help Hailsham Bird Sanctuary
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