These photographs illustrate the remarkable story
of Samson , a wild Swan whose bill had been largely destroyed in
a vicious attack by vandals.
Thanks to the dedicated care at Tinkers Hill and the
pioneering work of the prosthetic specialist, Samson was fitted
with a false bill that enabled him to lead a normal life.
Without this care, Samson would undoubtedly have suffered
a lingering death, as his injuries prevented him from eating or
However, the work with Samson had to continue for
some time, as the damaged part of his bill gradually receded, and
a new bill had to be fitted to compensate, usually at 6 month intervals.
Eventually, this condition was expected to stabilise,
and it was hoped to be possible to release him back into the wild.
Samson survived for over 5 years at Tinker's Hill
thanks to the support he received, particularly from Ed Hanniford,
the skilled Dental Technician who spent many a long hour preparing,
reparing and fitting Samson' artificial bill. Samson was probably
around 17 years of age at the time of his death.
He is still missed at the sanctuary.
Samson represented the more unusual side of the Rescue
work. Most of it is less spectacular but just as dedicated and rewarding.
Both swans and birds of prey are subject to more acts of unwarranted
and brutal cruelty than they are to accidental damage, although
Maria cares for both with equal skill. Broken wings, shotgun injuries,
barbed wire, fishermen’s nylon line ligatures are familiar
injuries, as are the Guillemots, Cormorants, terns and other sea
birds that haver been subjected to the all too familiar ‘oiling’
that is a particularly nasty injury as it is often accompanied by
internal as well as external effects.