As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Oil-covered birds are being washed up at an 'alarming rate', charity warns

Monday, 23 March 2020 - Environment

Seabirds covered in oil are being washed up on the island’s beaches at an alarming rate, a charity has warned.

The Manx Wild Bird Aid charity is currently dealing with some 17 guillemots that have been picked up.

The first cases were reported on Saturday lunchtime with distressed birds found on beaches along the east coast from the Point of Ayre to Port St Mary.

It is thought the oil spill originated near Anglesey, where there have been reports of oiled seabirds for a week or more.

David Cole, of Manx Wild Bird Aid, said he had reported the issue to the Coastguard.

Marine Operations have been notified and are in touch with the UK Coastguard. A spotter plane was expected to be sent up to investigate.

Mr Cole said: ’We picked up one bird from the Point of Ayre and one bird from Port St Mary but the epicentre seems to be around Laxey and Douglas.

’We treated more from the south on Sunday so the oil spill is obviously moving with the tide.

’On Saturday we just found the birds with no reports of oil on the beach but on Sunday people have reported finding tar on the beach.’

He added: ’It’s unusual that all the birds we have found have been guillemots.’

Some very small patches of what looked like heavy fuel oil were found on Port Soderick beach.

Mr Cole said there were two categories of bird - those that had been washed ashore that people have been able to pick up, and others which were obviously in distress but had gone back out to sea, preventing their recovery.

He said: ’The 17 are just the ones we have been able to pick up from the beach.’

Mr Cole, of Victoria Road, Castletown, admitted the birds’ chance of survival was ’not great’.

He explained the birds try to preen themselves and ingest the oil. They had to be hydrated and kept warm and fed before they were strong enough for the cleaning process to begin, which itself could be distressing for them.

Dog walkers are warned to be careful if they go on beaches.

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