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Stranded seabirds need a helping hand

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One of the Manx Shearwaters rescued in West Kerry last year

One of the Manx Shearwaters rescued in West Kerry last year

One of the Manx Shearwaters rescued in West Kerry last year

kerryman

The West Kerry branch of BirdWatch Ireland is appealing to everyone on the Dingle Peninsula to be on the lookout for Manx Shearwater fledglings that get stranded as they set out over the next few weeks on their long winter migration to South America.

The fledglings, which set off in darkness from their breeding grounds on the Blasket Islands on their first migration to the waters off Uruguay and Brazil, tend to be led astray by bright lights and once they land on solid ground they can't take off again.

This makes the pigeon-sized fledglings easy pickings for cats and other predators and local BirdWatch Ireland volunteers are asking people to rescue stranded birds so they can be released safely back into the wild.

The combined Kerry islands of the Blaskets, Skellig Michael and Puffin Island hold probably the fourth largest colony of Manx shearwaters in Europe and last year Birdwatch volunteers in West Kerry collected and released up to 70 stranded birds.

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Anybody who comes across a stranded Manx Shearwater is asked to pick it up carefully and place it securely in a cardboard box. This is easy to do because they are very timid and usually don't make any effort to avoid people. Do not give the bird any food or water and ring one of the volunteers listed below who will collect it and release it to continue its journey south. Last year volunteers in West Kerry collected and released up to 70 shearwaters.

The West Kerry branch of BirdWatch Ireland points out that Manx Shearwaters, which are a protected species, can live for over 50 years so by helping one bird you might help dozens of generations of shearwaters yet to come.

They also ask people to consider switching off unnecessary outside lights to save the birds from crash landing in the first place.

Volunteer contacts:

Britta (Ventry and Ballyferriter) - 087 2435845.

Richard (Ballyferriter and Ballydavid) - 086 3168150.

Catherine ( Dingle) - 087 9834823.

Breda (Dingle) - 087 2438697.


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