A gannet who was spotted trapped 150ft down Bempton Cliffs, in Bridlington, when the rest of the seabirds left the breeding ground at the weekend has been rescued by the RSPCA.
Specialist officers from the charity’s rope rescue team travelled from across the country to help the juvenile bird who was ‘flapping around and clearly distressed’ on the 300ft cliffs at the reserve, run by the RSPB.
The rescue operation, which involved one of the four officers abseiling down the cliff face, took place on Wednesday afternoon (24 October).
Local RSPCA inspector and national wildlife co-ordinator Geoff Edmond said: “RSPCA inspector Michael Pugh went down to the bird whilst colleagues Vicki Taylor, Nayman Dunderdale and Mark Roberts took responsibility for getting him down there and back safely.
“It was a difficult and dramatic rescue but we knew we had to free the bird, or he would have died down there.
“The bird was taken straight to a vet and given some treatment to help deal with stress and lice, but they believe the bird has a chance.
“The bird was transferred to RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire yesterday where they’ll be further assessed and hopefully rehabilitated so they can be returned to the wild.”
RSPB Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve is home to around half a million seabirds, including thousands of gannets, making it England’s largest mainland colony. The birds – which are the UK’s biggest seabird with a wingspan of around six feet (2 metres) – gather between March and October to raise a family on the towering chalk cliffs which overlook the North Sea. The birds then spend some time in the North Sea before heading to the West Coast of Africa.
Inspector Edmond said: “This bird had extensive line and plastic wrapped around their leg and would never have been able to fly and leave the nest without our assistance so we’re all extremely happy.
“The birds are known to use litter in the creation of their nests and this is an example of the issues that can cause.”
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing wildlife like this gannet please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give