Great Shearwater taken into care in Cambridgeshire


A Great Shearwater was recently found exhausted and taken into care in Cambridgeshire, the RSPCA has revealed.

The RSPCA received a call a member of the public who had discovered a sick and injured bird in a residential area in Wisbech on 1 April. Despite the date, the unusual find proved to be genuine and quickly transpired to be a Great Shearwater – a species never previously recorded in the county.

It was collected by one of the charity's wildlife casualty volunteers and taken to its East Winch branch, where it is currently being cared for.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA commented: "The bird is very weak and the prognosis at the moment is very guarded as it is still very early days – it has been made comfortable and is under vet treatment.

"We understand that the discovery of this bird which is rarely seen inland has resulted in a lot of excitement for keen bird enthusiasts – but we would ask that people do not ring or visit the centre to try to get an update. Please be assured we will provide further information when we can."

The Great Shearwater in care (RSPCA).

There are precious few inland records of Great Shearwater from anywhere in Britain and Ireland, making the discovery quite extraordinary. Even more exceptional is the time of year at which the bird has been found – typically, Great Shearwater is a late summer and early autumn visitor to north-west European waters, and the occurrence of a bird in early spring is virtually unheard of.

However, there have been sporadic reports of a Great Shearwater lingering in the North Sea throughout the winter and, given the species' rarity in British waters at this time of year, it seems likely that the Wisbech bird involves the same, lost individual. Seen irregularly in Northumberland until 28 November, presumably the same bird was then noted off Gibraltar Point NNR, Lincolnshire, on 2 December, Sheringham, Norfolk, on 20 December and latterly Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, on 2 March.