North Wootton woman takes action after finding large seabird on her trampoline
There was a lockdown surprise for a North Wootton woman who walked outside her home to find one of the largest seabirds in the North Atlantic sitting on her trampoline.
Dawn Austin came across the gannet on Tuesday, and was then concerned to see the seabird in the same position when she returned from work.
Wondering whether the bird was in distress, Mrs Austin spoke to an independent vet who suggested she catch the bird if safe to do so and take it to the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre - which she did.
She said: “I had gone to let my dog out in the morning and when I looked out in the garden I saw this huge bird sitting on the trampoline just staring at me! I quickly ushered the dog back inside. The bird didn’t look injured or distressed so I presumed it would just fly off.
“But when I came home he was still there - but this time sitting in the sunshine at the bottom of the garden. I spoke to our vet and they suggested bringing it in for a check up. I managed to use a towel to catch him - avoiding his large beak - and put him in our dog carrier. He just sat there resting and was very calm.
“While I was driving handsfree on the phone on the way to the vets, he sat there nodding his head almost like he was listening. The vets suggested I take him to East Winch which I did. I’m glad I was able to help him and me and my son Roan hope he will pull through."
Gannets are the largest seabirds in the North Atlantic, with wingspans which can reach up to 2m. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, gannets, like all wild birds, are a protected species.
They fly over the sea at heights of around 100ft while searching for fish and when they find a shoal they can dive from a height of 60ft at speeds of 60mph, in order to catch them.
Speaking about Mrs Austin's case, the RSPCA centre manager Alison Charles said: “As with lots of wildlife we never know why they sometimes get into difficulty and end up needing our help.
“We suspect that he was blown off course - but we do not know why, he is very weak, and our vets who examined him couldn't see any obvious injuries on him.
"He’s not feeding by himself which is a concern so at the moment we are feeding him three times a day, but we hope that being in a quiet space and having a chance to rest and recover that he will find the strength to pull through.
"It’s very hard to know at this early stage - but we are doing what we can to help him."
Gannets are distinctive birds and easily identified, by their streamlined shape, bright white colouration with black wingtips and buff-coloured head.
Mrs Charles added: “We are grateful to Dawn for all she did for this gannet, but we would not recommend people trying to handle or contain them themselves as they are such powerful birds and have very large beaks and we wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
If you see an animal in distress, contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.
For more information on what to do if you see an animal which is injured or in distress, visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/injuredanimals.