Belfast Telegraph

The wildlife refuge taking in 10 new rescue cases a day...

But facing closure when the 80-year-old stalwart who keeps it going finally retires in a month's time

By Linda Stewart

Peanut is a tiny little bird fighting for life after being found alone in a fallen nest.

The hairless bird is so young and delicate its species can't be identified. Yet despite its fragile build, it is battling hard for life against the odds.

Peanut is one of scores of animals being cared for at a wildlife refuge threatened with closure.

The rescue centre in Crumlin run by the Talnatory Avian Care Trust (Tact) has been inundated with baby animals and birds that have been injured or separated from their parents, according to owner Patricia Nevins.

It is taking in around 10 animals and birds every day, but Patricia (80) is due to retire in a month and fears her wildlife refuge won't be able to keep going unless more funding is raised.

She told the Belfast Telegraph that the centre is currently caring for about 150 animals – everything from tiny newborn chicks to young swans and foxes.

"We have had an awful lot of babies coming in. We've had a couple of young swifts, one of which we were able to release, but the other died," she said.

"We've also had a newborn bird come in. It's the size of a nut, so I've called it Peanut," she said. "It's been eating great, although it's so tiny that I don't think I'll be able to keep it alive, but I'll try. The lady who brought it in said the nest had fallen down and two birds were dead, but this one is still alive."

Patricia founded Tact 30 years ago but fears that its doors could close after she retires. She estimates that it will cost around £1,500 a week to continue the work carried out by the charity, which is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland.

"There is nowhere else that does this work," she said. "We probably have at least 20 babies at the moment. They are coming in all the time. When I got in last night a young sparrow came in at 11pm.

"We're getting about 10 things coming in every day now. We had three baby blackbirds yesterday, but two have died overnight because they are so tiny. It's awfully sad when that happens. You really need somebody sitting up all night feeding them every hour.

"A young fox that was brought in was found three to four weeks ago down a drain where a dog had dropped him."

Tomorrow Patricia will be guest of honour at a gala ball organised to raise money so that Tact's work can continue.

A Night At The Theatre is at the Ramada Plaza, Belfast and includes a gourmet meal and songs from the musicals performed by a special musical group directed by Peter Corry.

Anyone who wants to buy a ticket for £45 can contact Julie Fitzsimmons at julie.fitzsimmons @ramadaplaza belfast.com.

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