Dead seabirds found washed up on beach

The rescued Guillemot SUS-150903-160609001
The rescued Guillemot SUS-150903-160609001

Reports of a number of dead guillemots beaing washed ashore at Seaford and floating dead in Newhaven Harbour have been received by a wildlife charity.

Trevor Weeks, of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service, said, “Examination of two of these birds has now shown they weigh about half their natural body weight, suggesting this could be a small seabird wreck.

“Seabird wrecks is the term used when multiple dead and emaciated birds wash ashore and normally occur after rough weather at sea when flocks of seabirds lose track of the sources of fish they are following.

“The numbers seen on the Sussex coast are fairly low compared to incidents which have occurred over the past decade on the eastern coast where there have been a number of incidents where hundreds of birds have washed ashore dead.”

Meanwhile, the charity came to the aid of an injured bird. Mr Weeks said, “We rescued a guillemot which was found on the beach with a head injury.

“The bird was treated at WRAS’s Casualty Centre before being sent to RSPCA Mallydams Wood where they have specialist seabird facilities.”

The bird was treated at WRAS’s Casualty Centre before being sent to RSPCA Mallydams Wood where they have specialist seabird facilities.

Trevor Weeks

Jess Price, Conservation Officer at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said, ‘I haven’t received any reports of seabirds being washed up in the Seaford area. However, storms at sea can often result in dead birds being washed ashore with the tide.

“During the big winter storms in December 2013/January 2104 we received reports of razorbills, guillemots and starlings washed ashore along the Sussex coast.

“When there are huge waves out at sea combined with driving rain some birds do get swamped and drown.”

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said, “The RSPCA is not aware of any issues with birds being washed ashore, but would be very concerned if this was happening, and urges anyone with any information to call us on 0300 123 8018.”

Jim Skinner, of The Friends of Tide Mills, said, “At our last litter pick in February a member of the public came along with a distressed seabird which looked like a young guillemot. I suggested he take over to the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare at Ringmer as he lived in Lewes.”

A spokesperson for the RSPB said, “Sadly, there are several factors which can cause seabirds to get washed ashore.

These include: oil pollution; winter storms which can leave birds exhausted and emaciated; and a form of pollution known as PIB, which forms a sticky emulsion when it comes into contact with seawater. Any birds encountering this substance become coated in a sticky mess.”

Elsewhere in the bird world, WRAS has dealt with a pigeon flying around inside Boots in Eastbourne and an injured seagull in Bexhill.