Sixteen year old Jack Barton found a coot with dart completely through its neck at Queensmere Pond in Wimbledon Common. The photographer and A-level student had travelled to the Common to photograph wildlife when he shockingly found the injured bird. Jack gives an account on the experience.

“I was out at Wimbledon Common with my camera to photograph the wildfowl found on the ponds there; particularly as I was following the lives of the swan cygnets that were growing up at the time” Jack stated that as he was photographing birds, he began to “track a pair of coots through my lens and noticed one had something strange through its neck. I got closer and realised, to my shock, that the bird had some sort of dart in its neck, protruding through all the way out the other side.”

The dart had completely penetrated though the birds neck and Jack, a keen naturalist was amazed “considering the situation, the coot was still alive and still seemed to be feeding and preening relatively normally, its partner was even trying to pull the dart from its neck with its beak.”

Jack immediately decided to contact the RSPCA rescue service as he “knew that the coot couldn't go on living like that for long so decided it was best to alert someone. I called the RSPCA rescue line”. Jack had to wait an hour on hold and make three phone calls before getting through to the RSPCA emergency helpline. After 2 hours of further waiting Jack said “an RSPCA officer arrived with a measly net and a slice of white bread (which they surely know is bad for ducks?)”. After a poor attempt the officer “could not catch the coot so I had to kept my fingers crossed that something could later be done.”

When Jack arrived home he “uploaded the photograph of the coot onto social media sites as he knew many others would be as shocked as he was. He spoke to another young photographer about the situation who got in touch with the park rangers. They informed her that they were monitoring the coot but there was little they could do.”

The coot’s future was unknown. It is shocking to think someone could throw a playing dart into a wild animal. Jack stated “It pains me to think that the coot has most likely undeservingly died due to its injuries.”

The young wildlife enthusiast also added, “What really gets to me was the idea that any human being would have the heartlessness and barbarity to do such a thing. Who, with any appreciation of our natural world, would think it's acceptable to send a dart through the neck of a bird and put it though any unnecessary suffering? Unfortunately, I know full well there are too many people out there with little appreciation for our natural world.”

To see photographs by Jack, please visit www.