13 Sep 2006

Guillemots. Dying everywhere!!

Recently there have been reports that dead Guillemots were washing up along the whole East and South Coast of Ireland. I had noticed a couple of dead guillemots out at Killard and then I had also seen some along the shore at Murlough.There was also reports of over 25 found in Dundrum Bay and The following relevant article appears in The Irish Times :

Sea birds may have died from starvation
Seán MacConnell

Scientists believe that dozens of young guillemot sea birds found dead recently on the east coast died from starvation.
The public began reporting to a bird flu hotline and BirdWatch Ireland that birds were being found dead along the coast from Monday.The first discovery was made at Killiney beach, Co Dublin, where four birds were found, and later that day 12 birds were found dead at Dundalk, Co Louth.According to Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland, the number of dead birds being reported raised concerns over possible pollution at sea."We were on to the Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture and the Coast Guard and no pollution was uncovered."He said between 12 and 17 dead birds turned up in Arklow yesterday as scientists continued their investigation.

"When the birds were identified as guillemots, it became clear they were all juvenile birds. There were no adults.
"Having ruled out pollution, and because the birds had no oil on their feathers, the scientists discovered the birds had died from hunger."Mr Hatch said it was possible the young birds were from second broods and did not have the
strength to survive the very tough life the guillemot leads."They need plumage and they need it fast to survive the diving they have to do to catch fish when they feed far out at sea."
© The Irish Times

Well this evening I decided to go and see if there were anymore out at Killard and sadly there was another. I picked it up as it looked as though it had died recently and there was no flesh on its breast at all. My non scientific conclusion was that it had died of starvation. The tide was right out and I continued to search the high tide line and there was another but this time it was alive. I picked it up and it seemed in better condition than the dead one. As there was very strong on shore winds and the sea was quite rough I decided to put it back into the sea on the other side of the peninsular in the lee of the wind. I hope it survives. The strange thing about these deaths are that they have all happenned to juveniles and it seems to have happened over a very short period of time. I have been looking regularly since and there seem to be no further reports of them washing up on the shores locally.


Anonymous said...

We found two dead guillemots on the high tide line, under the cliffs, at Killard on Saturday, 16th Sept.

ciderduck said...

found a dead razorbill at coney island about a month or so ago. I saw families of them around there. I certainly wouldn't've thought that it was anything more than an incidental casualty...