Last Thursday was a really good day at the office. Thanks to the RSPCA, we were able to save one of our 30,000 gannets.
Visitors on the reserve's Jubilee Corner viewpoint alerted staff to a trapped gannet on the cliff face that was obviously in some distress. Their call set in motion a chain of events that culminated in a successful two-hour rescue operation undertaken in conjunction with the RSPCA.
Having been informed of the bird’s plight by our warden, local RSPCA Wildlife Officer, Geoff Edmonson decided to bring in the organisation’s specialist climbing team.
Driving from Wales and Birmingham, the climbers met on the nature reserve at around 2pm to mount a rescue bid – having first received permission from Natural England.
Caught in fishing line and baling twine, the gannet was swinging by the leg approximately 150 feet down the 400 feet high chalk cliffs.
The first attempt to get to it failed. A fresh climber made a second attempt and, well protected by thick gloves and eye goggles, managed to release the bird, place it in a bag and return with it to the cliff top.
As luck would have it, retired vet Jill Reed, was visiting the site and was able to assess the bird’s condition on the cliff top. Despite its ordeal, it was in remarkably good shape. Although visibly tired, there appeared to be no damage to its leg apart from a bloody toe!
The bird was transported by the RSPCA to Scarborough’s Sealife Centre where it will be checked again for any injuries, given food and water and allowed to rest. Once it’s back to full strength, it will be released back onto the cliffs.
While everyone involved was delighted by the outcome, sadly there is evidence on the cliffs of other seabirds who weren't so lucky. Marine litter poses a real threat to seabirds and incidents like this are on the increase. We are currently working closely with local groups to reduce the amount of waste left by fishermen on the cliffs and we continue to campaign to combat marine litter on a larger scale.
Images: Ken Calverley