By Ellie Duncombe
This animal-loving climber went the extra mile to carry out a dangerous rescue of a swan trapped 50ft in the air in a tree.
Wildlife expert Simon Cowell was called out to the bird’s crash landing atop a tree on a cold and wet night in West Mosely, Surrey, last month.
Together with aviation recovery specialist Tim SURNAME from the Wildlife Aid Foundation, Simon and a team of volunteers set out a plan to save the distressed bird before it fell to the ground – which could have proved fatal as swans need a run-up before they’re able to successfully fly.
Dramatic video footage shows climbing instructor Simon putting a ladder against the tree TYPE’S trunk before scaling the rest using only basic climbing equipment and depositing the swan in a bag to bring it back to safety.
Simon, AGE, from WHERE, Surrey, said: “This was one of the most difficult and dangerous rescues in the 40-year history of the centre.
“The swan had somehow crash landed into the top of the tree.
“As well as being more than 50ft in the air, it was dark, windy, raining and the bird was right next to three live power cables.
“It took some time for us to figure out a plan that was safe for the rescuers, and for the bird, as a fall from that height would likely have resulted in its death.
“Eventually it was decided that Tim and I would put a ladder up to the first third of the tree, before I scaled the rest with Tim belaying from below.
“The branches were quite thin and were covered in a slippery moss, but eventually we were able to reach the swan.”
After the swan was brought down to safer ground, there were initial concerns about its leg being injured.
But after three days in the care of the Wildlife Aid Foundation, it made a full recovery and was released back into the wild.
Simon said: “We passed up a bag and carefully lifted the swan out of the tree and into the bag, where it was lowered to safety.
“While we had initial concerns about one leg, the swan quickly recovered and could be released just three days later.”