RSPCA flies in to rescue hundreds of Manx Shearwaters blown off course
5:10pm Tuesday 6th September 2011 in News
A record number of Manx Shearwater juveniles have been blown inland by strong winds in Pembrokeshire in the last two days.
RSPCA Inspector Keith Hogben rescued an unprecedented number from the surf in Newgale yesterday (19 by late afternoon), but since then the rescue team has recovered hundreds more (approx 400) – mainly Manx Shearwaters but also other birds like gannets.
He said: “The islands of Skomer and Skokholm have around 50% of the UK’s Manx Shearwater population, in fact, the largest known concentration of the species in the world.
“Around August and September the adults and then the juveniles leave the islands to begin migration to the coast of South America, but of course the strong winds in the last few days have blown them off course.
“We haven’t rescued a similar number of birds in Wales since the Sea Empress oil spill in 1996 and the RSPCA is appealing to members of the public to notify us of any distressed birds they may come across in the area.
“It is vital that we do our best to locate these birds as soon as possible as they are otherwise at risk with regards to predators, the weather, shock and hypothermia.
“We are alerting people that the juveniles may even be found further afield in Carmarthenshire and Fishguard in northern Pembrokeshire.”
“For purposes of identification, the Manx Shearwater has long straight slim wings, and is black above and white below. Its feet are placed far back on its body enabling efficient swimming, but this also makes life on land difficult; it cannot walk easily and tends to be very ungainly, shuffling and sometimes sledging along on its belly.
“If you live in the area and do come across them, the best way to capture them without encountering their sharp beak is to throw something like a towel over them and then carefully put them in a box.”
The number to call is the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.