Guernsey Environment Department requests reports of dead seabirds

February 22nd, 2014 by States of Guernsey Environment Department

The States of Guernsey Environment Department organised a count of seabirds washed-up dead around Guernsey’s coast on Saturday 22 February 2014.

By 6 p.m. 79 dead seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, shags, puffins and a great northern diver had been collected from the Guernsey shore and brought to the central collection point at Cobo kiosk car park.

Ornithologists and volunteers from La Société Guernesiaise, RSPB Guernsey and GSPCA collected the birds so that data could be gathered on the number and species of birds that have been lost due to the poor weather conditions recently.

The early February 2014 storms in the Atlantic brought strong winds and heavy seas, which have prevented diving birds such as guillemots, razorbills and puffins from catching food. Some of the dead seabirds also had oil on their plumage.

In early February 2014, hundreds of dead marine birds washed up on beaches from the Bay of Biscay to Brittany, the Channel Islands and Cornwall.

There have been reports of dead birds on the Guernsey shore in the last two weeks, including dead gulls, razorbills, guillemots, puffins and shags.

St Sampson’s Douzaine found five dead birds on the Belle Greve bay shore during a beach clean, and Take 3 Guernsey cleaning Petit Port on 16 February 2014 found two puffins, two guillemots and a shag.

States Works beach cleaning crew found a further 20 dead birds around west coast beaches from 17 to 20 February.

The survey on Saturday 22 February was to collect data in a single common format on dead seabird numbers for Guernsey’s coastline.

Alderney Wildlife Trust is collating this seabird data for the Channel Islands in co-operation with RSPB South West.

“Some of our breeding birds are still at sea, there is no way to tell yet how badly numbers may have been affected,” an Environment Department spokesperson said.

“Such numbers of dead birds from storm conditions haven’t previously been seen here.”

“It’s particularly sad to see regular reports of puffins amongst the dead birds throughout the Channel Islands.”

“It highlights just how vulnerable some of our most iconic seabirds are.”

Dead seabirds might continue washing up on Channel Island shores for some days yet. Buzz White reported seeing two dead guillemots at sea on 19 February while sailing from Guernsey to Sark.

Anyone finding a dead seabird is asked to record species, location and date found, and then dispose of the body by bagging and binning it to avoid it being recounted.

Gloves should be worn when handling dead birds and hands washed thoroughly afterwards.

Please send your reports preferably with an image of the bird plus any information on rings or tags by email to: [email protected]

 

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