March 2014: Following the severe storms of the last three months, more than 28,000 seabirds have been found dead along the coasts of southwest Europe, from Spain to northern Scotland.
Some of these storm-washed birds were wearing uniquely numbered rings that tell their age and origin, many being from remote colonies in Wales and Scotland. The storms have now abated but large numbers of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills and shags, are still being found dead on British, Irish and French beaches.
The first sign of the seabird wreck appeared in France, with thousands of puffins washing up dead or starving. The RSPB said that feeding in storm-tossed seas must be akin to trying to see and catch fish inside a washing machine set on spin.
Dr Euan Dunn, RSPB principal marine advisor, said: "This seabird wreck, on a scale unprecedented in living memory, could have profound impacts on vulnerable seabird breeding colonies, including the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly, where puffins have a fragile toehold, and on Lundy, where puffins are starting to recover from near extinction." However, dead birds are now being found in Spain, the Channel Islands and along the west coast of Britain, and a wider range of species are now washing up.
To help monitor this unprecedented ‘wreck’ the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is urging beachcombers to check for rings if they find any dead birds. So far this year, more than 400 ringed seabirds have been reported to the BTO, including record numbers of puffins and guillemots, but there are certainly going to be more to find.
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Obviously, I don't like this report. I am glad to know about it, however. A "record numbers of puffins and guillemots" have been found dead.
Sitting on Skellig Michael, I looked out over Little Skellig and saw puffins and guillemots.
These are not my photos. They are from public stock.