Submitted by Steve on 13:28, 19th Feb, 2016 | 0

We are pleased to report that 4 of the rescued oiled guillemots found around Guernsey in January are clean from oil and have been rehabilitating on one of our pools.

Lihou, Pegasus, Bob and Rockmount who were all oiled and very poorly when they arrived at the GSPCA have all received a number of washes, treatment, medication, time in an intensive care unit, a lot of fish and have been getting use to being outside over the last few weeks.

All are doing very well and this week were professionally ringed for identification purposes which means after they are released we can hopefully track their progress.

Yvonne Chauvel Senior Animal Care Assistant said "The 4 guillemots Lihou, Pegasus, Bob and Rockmount are doing really well and we will be releasing them very soon, we need to just check their weights and ensure we have a nice break in the weather for them."

"We work with a number of local bird ringers who pop in so that when we release many of the wild birds we rescue they can be identified when spotted and it is amazing where some of the birds go like the gulls that venture to Africa or the UK."

"It won't be long before the 4 guillemots are back in the wild and thank you to all that have donated to their care it is very kind."

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said "We help over 3000 animals and birds every year at the GSPCA and thankfully not too many oiled birds when we compare to years gone by."

"Saying this every winter when stormy weather hits the shores of Guernsey and the sea beds and sunken ships are disturbed oil is brought to the surface and these 4 birds are some of the very lucky ones."

"We haven't had too many oiled birds in the last two weeks, but we have got a kestrel called Andy that was found oiled and is doing very well and had his second wash today."

"We are always looking for donations and regular sponsors towards the animals in our care and to have rehabilitated each of these beautiful penguin looking birds will have cost in treatment, medication, food and care to help save their lives."

"Their are many ways to donate and if you would like to support the wildlife work specifically please do get in touch with me on 257261 or [email protected]."

There are many ways to donate below and to download an Angel Pen Pal Sponsor Form please click here

Guillemot Facts -

  • The Guillemot is penguin-like in appearance; slim, pointed bill, dark brown head and upperparts, white underparts.
  • Distribution: In Europe it is found on the coasts of Scandinavia, the British Isles, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Brittany and elsewhere in Iceland, Alaska, Newfoundland and one spot on the coast of Greenland.
  • Breeds as far south as Portugal in the Atlantic and North Korea and San Francisco in the Pacific.
  • Description: Penguin-like in appearance; slim, pointed bill, dark brown head and upperparts, white underparts. Lower face is white in the winter. Some birds are 'bridled', having a white line behind the eye & a white eye-ring when in breeding plumage.
  • Habitat: Open sea, cliff ledges, offshore rock pillars.
  • Size: 42cm in height. Sexes are alike. Food: fish, mainly sprats, also crustaceans, worms and molluscs. Standing upright on a rock ledge, with its white underparts showing and paddle-like feet sticking out in front, the guillemot is the nearest thing Britain has to a penguin!
  • Another similarity is the way in which the breeding birds crowd together in huge colonies.
  • They belong to the auk family and is therefore closely related to the razorbill and puffin.
  • Feeding: Guillemots fish in the open sea, usually alone or in small groups, during autumn and winter.
  • They look rather duck-like when swimming and they dive below the surface by kicking their feet and partially spreading their wings.
  • Underwater the wings are used for propulsion and the feet used for steering.
  • Fish such as sand eels and sprats make up the major part of their diet.
  • Shrimps, prawns, crabs, molluscs and worms are also eaten, when closer inshore.
  • Guillemots, like many other seabirds, begin to gather at their breeding sites, well before breeding actually begins, in late May.
  • They congregate on rocks and cliff ledges, packed tightly together in large colonies; they need to be stimulated by a noisy crowd to mate successfully.
  • Courtship takes place in the water with one bird swimming around the other which spins to face it.
  • They sometimes indulge in communal displays, several pairs circling and bobbing or standing up and flapping their wings.
  • The air around a guillemot colony is full of the birds' muttered growls of varying pitch.
  • They are silent for the rest of the year when not breeding.
  • A single egg is laid directly onto the bare rock - no nest is made.
  • The mottled egg is pear-shaped (pyriform), and this is a special adaptation so that the egg rolls round in a circle when disturbed rather than off the ledge.
  • The male and female birds take turns to incubate the egg, balancing it on their feet, covering it with their belly plumage.
  • After about 4 weeks, a grey, almost helpless youngster hatches and it will stay on its ledge for four to five weeks.
  • The parents continually fly in and out from the colony to catch fish and regurgitate meals for their baby.
  • The young guillemots leave their ledges before their flight feathers have fully grown and they are only one-third of the adult weight.
  • They leap off the ledges at night, to avoid predators such as gulls, and plummet down, whirring their tiny, undeveloped wings.
  • On hitting the water they call frantically to their parents who are already at sea.
  • Their parents escort them further out to sea where they are fed for about three weeks until they can fly and fend for themselves.
  • The young birds will not return to land until two or more years later when they are ready to breed.
  • At the end of the breeding season, about the end of July, all the activity on the rock ledges ceases as the adults fly away southwards and seawards for the winter.
  • The birds winter off southern England, around Guernsey, France and Spain.
  • Shortly after leaving the breeding grounds, the guillemots moult, shedding all their flight feathers at once and they cannot fly until a new set grows.
  • Within the British Isles, the guillemot has decreased in numbers over the past centuries, especially in the south of England.  The original cause may have been the warming of the sea that reduced the fish populations so affecting the birds' food, but over the past 30 - 40 years oil pollution has had a serious effect.
  • The auks suffer badly from oil because their reaction is to dive, so becoming even more polluted, whereas other seabirds such as gulls take off and so escape.
  • Recently, guillemots have suffered from overfishing of sand eels and sprats by humans. Conservationists would like to see this controlled because it is believed to be causing hundreds of birds to starve.

Bonnie The Seal from karldorfner on Vimeo.

To become an Angel Pen Pal sponsor and support the many animals in our care please download an Angel Pen Pal Sponsor form by clicking here.
To donate to Bonnie the grey seal pup please call 01481 257261, pop along to the Animal Shelter in St Andrews, by post or by clicking the link below.

8 days on and Bonnie the seal pup is doing better than we coul...

8 days on and Bonnie the seal pup is doing better than we could have hoped

Posted by GSPCA on Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Some facts about Grey Seals -

The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig") is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus. Its name is spelled gray seal in the US; it is also known as Atlantic grey seal and the horsehead seal

Grey seal adults may be up to 2.5 metres in length and weigh up to 250kg, with males tending to be larger than females.

Previous seal pups rescued Jethou Bumblebee was 17kg on entry and Hanois 20kg, Eden 18kg and Trinity 15kg which was less than half the 40kg they should have been for their age with Bonnie only 14kg.

Male grey seals reach sexual maturity at 6 years, Females at 3 to 5 years and the latter give birth to their pups in the Autumn and early Winter.

Typically the first British pups are born off the Scillies and Cornwall in August and September and the time of pupping is progressively later as you move clockwise around the British Isles, the latest pups being born off the east coast of Scotland in late December.

All seal pups rescued locally were born early November to late December.

At, birth, grey seal pups weigh about 13 kg. and are covered in long, creamy white hair. A bond is formed between mother and pup at birth, and a mother can recognise her pup from its call and smell. For the first 3 weeks of their lives, pups rarely swim, suckling from their mothers 5 to 6 times a day, for up to 10 minutes at a time. The mothers milk is rich in fat and the pups rapidly put on weight.

The seal pups rescued have all been around two to three weeks when they were brought into the GSPCA.

The mother tends to remain just offshore between suckling bouts and rarely feeds, losing up to a quarter of her body weight before her pup is weaned.

Grey seal pups are weaned after losing their baby coat at 3 to 4 weeks of age. At this point, they weigh 40 to 50 kg; three times their birth weight.

The pups live off these fat reserves whilst learning to feed, which may take several weeks.

The adult females which are called cows become fertile soon after weaning their pups, mating with the adult males which are called bulls, who hold territories during the breeding season and may mate with over half a dozen cows.

Mating can take place on land or in water and pregnancy last for 11.5 months, there being a period of 3.5 months when the fertilised embryo does not attached to the wall of the uterus and its development is arrested ("delayed implantation"). As a result, pups are born at the same time each year. Grey seals moult annually in the spring, 3 to 5 months, after the end of the breeding season. In the wild, males may live for about 25 years, females for about 35 years.

We will of course keep you up to date with Bonnie's progress and keep your eyes open for pictures and videos.

If anyone see's a pup with or without a mum we really do appreciate a call so that we are aware of its location and condition but here is some advice.

A healthy pup looks like a big, stuffed maggot without a neck. However, a thin pup looks sleek (but not bony) and has a visible neck, like a healthy dog.

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE SEAL. They can give a nasty bite, which will become infected by bacteria that live in a seal’s mouths.

Note: Do not allow dogs or other animals to harass a seal.

If a Seal is scared back into the water, it could then be washed out to sea by strong currents and be lost. You should not put a seal pup back in the sea as it may get into difficulty.

If a Seal pup is sick, thin or injured then we would ask you to contact the GSPCA immediately on 01481 257261 day or night

When reporting an injured, sick or abandoned seal to the GSPCA, please make sure you are able to supply the following information:

  • Exact location; nearest town / village
  • Position on the beach, and state of the tide
  • How long you have observed the pup; any disturbance / risk to it; whether the mother has been seen
  • Any wounds / obvious signs of illness
  • Length/colour/condition.

Caution:- Handling of any animal either domestic, wild, dead or alive may be potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues. Common sense should be applied in all instances and, if unsure, seek additional advice or assistance. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal, whether it’s domestic, wild, dead or alive.

To see some of the previous stories follow the links below

Seal Rescue to Save Jethou Bumblebee 25th November 2012

Hanois the grey seal pup rescued on Saturday by GSPCA staff 7th January 2013

Jethou Bumblebee & Hanois the rescued grey seal pups back in the wild 18th April 2013

The Rescue of Trinity the Seal Pup 9th January 2014

Extremely sick and weak Grey Seal Pup rescued at Corbier now at the GSPCA

Posted by GSPCA on Monday, 18 January 2016

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Pop Up Shop at the GSPCA has a new look thanks to Holeshot

Posted by GSPCA on Saturday, 6 February 2016

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