Submitted by Steve on 20:56, 21st Sep, 2016 | 0

Earlier today Gareth the Gannet was returned back to the wild after three weeks of rehabilitation at the GSPCA.

The young bird was rescued weak and thin three weeks ago at Port Soif by Animal Collection Officer Geoff George and spent over a week in our intensive care room for large sea birds and sea mammals until he was fit enough to be placed on to one of our rehabilitation pools.

After nearly two weeks on our pools it was decided with his fitness much improved and the fair weather to release him on the north of Guernsey.

GSPCA staff member Kevin Beausire transported Gareth to a safe release site and managed to get a number of great pictures of Gareth heading back to the wild.

Kevin Beausire GSPCA staff member said "It was lovely to see Gareth back to the open sea where he belongs after nearly a month of care at the GSPCA."

"He didn't fly straight off as he checked out his surrondings before taking a quick swim and he seemed very happy to be back in the wild."

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said "At the GSPCA we help well over 1500 wild animals and birds every year and only a handful of those are gannets and it is wonderful when they are strong enough to make it back to the wild as sadly many of those injured by rubbish and fish netting often don't survive."

"It was great to see Gareth the gannet back where he should be and was released with a view of Alderney where they have a wonderful breeding colony of his species."

"Its amazing to know how gannets are doing in Alderney and the Alderney Wildlife Trust do a wonderful job monitoring them and tracking their movements."

"If you are interested in sponsoring a wildlife pen or to donate to their care please do check the links on our website or call 257261."

Some Gannet facts 

  • Adults are large and bright white with black wingtips. They are distinctively shaped with a long neck and long pointed beak, long pointed tail, and long pointed wings.
  • At sea they flap and then glide low over the water, often travelling in small groups.
  • They feed by flying high and circling before plunging into the sea.
  • They breed in significant numbers at only a few localities and so is an Amber List species.
  • Latin name Morus bassanus
  • Family Boobies and gannets (Sulidae)
  • Biggest mainland breeding colony at RSPB's Bempton Cliffs.
  • Two mainland colonies - at Bempton and Troup Head, Scotland.
  • Big island colonies on St Kilda, the Northern Isles and Bass Rock in Scotland and Grassholm in Wales. Can be seen offshore almost anywhere, especially when they migrate south between August and October.
  • They arrive at their colonies from January onwards and leave between August and October.
  • Non-breeding birds can be seen at any time around the coasts and the main migration period offshore is during the autumn.
  • Population estimated 220,000 nests
  • In 1940, a single pair of Northern Gannets nested on Les Etacs. The colony grew, partly through lack of disturbance from any fishing activity during World War Two, and by 2011, there were 5765 pairs of gannets on Les Etacs, and a further 2120 pairs on Ortac. These colonies account for 2% of the world population. 
  • Research in 2011 using GPS satellite tags found that Alderney's gannets use three main foraging areas: the local bay of Mont St Michel, the French coast towards Le Havre, and the south coast of England. 
  • They frequently make round trips of 200 to 300 km to locate their food. 
  • Gannets feed primarily on fish such as mackerel, sand eels and herring, which they find by diving to depths of up to 20 metres or scavenging along the surface of the sea.
  • They seem to have prospered from the EU discard policy under which fisherman are required to return catches outside the terms of their quotas. 
  • Darker coloured juvenile birds like Gareth are unable to roost on the heavily defended nest sites, and will only reach maturity after four to five years. These young birds are vulnerable when taking their first flights from the nest in early autumn, sometimes finding it difficult to take off from the surface of the sea.


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