16/02/2014
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What to do if you find 'beached' seabirds

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This Black Guillemot is perfectly fine on its rocky shore, but the RSPB has issued advice on what to do should you find one 'beached'.. Photo: SeanMack (commons.wikimedia.org).
This Black Guillemot is perfectly fine on its rocky shore, but the RSPB has issued advice on what to do should you find one 'beached'.. Photo: SeanMack (commons.wikimedia.org).
The RSPB has issued guidelines for people who find live or dead seabirds washed up on beaches.

Every year  – and particularly in winter – seabirds are washed up on beaches, particularly in the South-West. The RSPB has issued some guidance to help people who come across such `beached’ birds, and to assist with their welfare and conservation.

Seabirds face many hazards, both man-made and natural. Birds may be storm-wrecked by adverse weather conditions that exhaust the birds, and sometimes very large numbers can be affected. Also, oil and other pollution can kill or disable birds, and others may be accidentally caught and killed in fishing nets. In all cases, the birds can be alive or dead.

If members of the public find live seabirds that can be rescued, it is recommended that they contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. It is best not to attempt to rescue seabirds yourself or to handle them.

The charity is keen to monitor and record numbers of `beached’ seabirds so that we can identify pollution or other incidents and, as appropriate, take action with partner NGOs and the statutory agencies. The information needed is:

• the date of finding the bird
• its location (a grid reference is ideal)
• the numbers of birds found
• the species of bird involved – a physical description is helpful for identification
• the number found dead or alive.
• details of any obvious pollution (oil or other substance) – the extent of a pollutant on the birds themselves, a description (colour, etc) of the substance
• the name and contact details of the person finding birds (this is so the RSPB can contact them for more info if necessary)

Photos are helpful too. Precise information enables the RSPB to gauge the extent of any problem better, and to cross reference reports where we receive several calls about the same birds. However we are still keen to receive reports even if, for example, there is uncertainty over numbers or species identification. Please can report any seabirds you find to SWseabirds@rspb.org.uk.

If you are in Cornwall, please report all dead stranded seabirds and other marine life to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Strandings Network 24-hour hotline on 0345 201 2626. Take photos if possible and send them to strandings@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk.
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