An RSPCA wildlife centre in Cheshire has welcomed two rare puffin patients.

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The young birds are being treated at RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, in Nantwich, after being found covered in oil on a beach in Sunderland.

Before being released back into the wild they will need to be washed thoroughly with Fairy liquid to ensure that all of the oil has gone.

The wildlife centre, in London Road, treats all kinds of birds, from pigeons, swans to buzzards – but it is very rare for the team to treat a puffin, let alone two at the same time.

The centre currently has a number of oiled birds from the same beach, including eight guillemots and two razorbills.

Lee Stewart, manager of the wildlife centre, said: “If oil is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia, so it is important that they are cleaned before going back to the wild.

“Every bird is assessed on arrival and sometimes several deep cleans are needed to remove all the contaminate. It can be fairly labour-intensive, sometimes taking two members of staff 30 minutes for each wash.

“We are always fascinated by the puffins which we get into the centre as we don’t get them very often – there have been rare admissions over the years but we have had six admitted in the last couple of weeks, partly from the oil spill but partly from the storms. Two were sadly put to sleep, two have been released and two are still in our care.

“We are hoping to get our remaining two fit and well as soon as possible so that they can also be returned to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Puffins spend autumn and winter out at sea and come to the UK’s shores in spring and summer to breed.

The wildlife centre is always looking for donations of original Fairy liquid to help clean oiled birds. Donations can be dropped off at the wildlife centre in London Road, Nantwich, or at a donation point situated at Sainsbury’s in Nantwich, which supports the centre.

The RSPCA would recommend anyone who sees pollution on water or land to call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Concerns for a wild animal that has come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA is a charity relies on public donations to exist. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can text RSPCA2 to 70007. Texts cost £3 + standard network rate.