THE West Kerry Branch of BirdWatch Ireland is appealing to people to report any stranded Manx Shearwaters (pictured right) they find in the coming weeks.
Manx Shearwaters (An Canóg Dubh as Gaeilge) breed in large numbers on the Blasket Islands and every September the young birds leave their nests and head for their winter feeding grounds in South America. Sadly, some of the migrating birds quickly go astray because they are drawn inland by the lights of Dingle town and other well-illuminated areas. They sometimes land on roads and footpaths and then get into serious trouble because they can't take off from flat ground as they have evolved to deal with life on remote cliffs and in the oceans.
"Normally they are unharmed when they land but would soon be killed by dogs, cats or cars," Britta Wilkins of BWI explained. "People can contact three of our volunteers who have experience in releasing these vulnerable birds safely back to the wild. These BWI volunteers will keep the birds until weather conditions allow a safe release from a remote headland after dark." Britta also said that if the birds cannot be collected immediately, they will settle well in a closed, dark box. "They are placid to handle but they do not need any food or water as their parents left them fat and ready for a transatlantic journey so they will be comfortable enough for a couple of days in the quiet of a shed if necessary," she said.
To report a stranded Manx Shearwater contact Helen on 086-0618192 (Dingle), Britta on 087-2435845 ( Ventry) or Catherine (Ballymore) on 087-9834823.