Guernsey public asked to help seabirds that are struggling to cope with severe weather conditions

February 11th, 2014 by La Société Guernesiaise

Seabirds are being found washed up on Guernsey’s beaches following the recent high tides and strong winds.

The prolonged bad weather conditions mean that many birds found around the island’s coast have found it difficult to find enough food to survive.

Shags, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes have been particularly badly hit as these species cannot find the small fish and sand eels they feed on when weather conditions are rough.

One Guillemot was washed over the Cobo sea wall in an over topping wave last weekend, ending up in a car park.

Another was found inland in a field in Torteval.

The birds were rescued and taken to the GSPCA but for many birds the constant battering from wind and waves has simply overwhelmed them as they attempt to feed.

On Sunday 10 February 2014 several seabirds came ashore along the west coast either dead, oiled or moribund.

It is likely that many more will follow over the next few days particularly if bad weather continues.

Jamie Hooper of La Société Guernesiaise said “seabirds such as guillemots are well-adapted to life at sea but the relentless weather over the last month has taken a sorry toll.”

“Some gulls will take to more sheltered areas such as coastal grasslands or inland fields where they can find worms and insects but other species which rely on a diet of fish sadly don’t have that option,” he said.

RSPB Guernsey and La Société Guernesiaise are asking the public to help by being aware that birds on beaches will either be feeding or resting during low tide periods and need to be left in peace.

Some birds in poor condition will need to be rescued and taken into care.

Dog owners in particular can help by keeping their pets under close control or on a lead to prevent birds being chased as this causes birds to lose vital energy reserves every time they fly away.

Donna Francis of RSPB Guernsey said “many people innocently assume that a dog chasing and putting birds to flight is harmless fun.”

“In reality, it is a waste of vital energy and in these extreme conditions it may be the last straw for seabirds.”

“Those unnecessary flights away from a dog whilst birds try to feed or rest can be the cause of some birds not surviving the night.”

“Everyone’s co-operation and support to let birds remain undisturbed on the beaches is appreciated,” she said.

Anyone finding a sick or injured bird in Guernsey should contact the GSPCA shelter on 01481 257261.

 

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