MORE than 140 Manx shearwaters were rescued from Newgale beach today, September 11, after the seabirds were caught up in difficult weather conditions.

It is thought there was a mass landing of the birds on the Pembrokeshire beach, following storms during the early hours.

The majority of the seabirds - some 134 - were rescued by the RSPCA, with 10 thought to have been collected by other agencies.

Sadly, approximately 10 per cent of those birds collected by the RSPCA today have had to be put to sleep on welfare grounds. 100 or so were also found dead, following their ordeal in stormy conditions.

All 144 Manx shearwaters rescued will now be taken into RSPCA care, and will undergo rehabilitation in the hope they can soon be released back to the wild. One gannet was also rescued by the charity.

RSPCA officers remain based on Newgale beaches, with the rescue operation expected to continue into the evening.

Large populations of Manx shearwaters are based in West Wales and, at this time of year, regularly face problems in stormy or windy weather. Many of the birds get blown off course - and while they are very able in flight or on water, they can struggle on dry land.

The RSPCA regularly receive calls at this time of the year about troubled Manx shearwaters in the region - and this, in particular, was a "large, challenging and major operation involving hundreds of seabirds".

RSPCA chief inspector Romain DeKerckhove said: "I am hugely proud of the exceptional effort of RSPCA officers, who have worked tirelessly throughout the day to support many troubled Manx shearwaters. We're also so grateful to volunteers who have assisted with this complex work.

"Clearly, this was a large, challenging and major operation involving hundreds of seabirds.

"Rescue efforts continue - but already RSPCA officers have saved some 134 of these birds, with a further 10 collected by other agencies. All will now go into RSPCA care.

"Sadly, somewhere in the region of 100 birds were either found dead, or had to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering, but today's rescue efforts mean a huge number of Manx shearwaters will now be rehabilitated, and hopefully soon returned to where they belong.

"Given the population of these birds in the West Wales areas, calls regarding their welfare are common. If anyone sees one in distress, they are urged to contact our 24-hour Emergency Line on 0300 1234 999. Manx shearwaters possess a distinctive sharp beak, which members of the public need to be wary of."