Devon oil slick affects local birds

The male Guillemot is recovering at Brent Lodge Bird and Wildlife Trust
The male Guillemot is recovering at Brent Lodge Bird and Wildlife Trust
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OILY substances have led to the discovery of sick and dead wildlife.

Brent Lodge Bird and Wildlife Trust received reports on Monday (April 15) of a bird found dead on a beach in Bracklesham, which was covered in an oily substance.

At around 4pm on Monday, a male guillemot was brought into the centre after being discovered coated in a similar substance in Selsey.

Emma Pink, manager at Brent Lodge Bird and Wildlife Trust, said: “It is not uncommon, but unfortunately it is a really sad occurrence. He was covered in the sticky, clear oil substance that other birds were caught up earlier this year. It would seem there has been another spill and it has come further up the coast this time.”

Brent Lodge staff believe the substance has travelled up the coastline from Devon and are advising people to bring in any discovered birds.

“The substance is called polyisobutene, or PIB, which currently can be released legally under certain conditions. It’s a clear substance so, unlike crude oil, at first sight it isn’t always obvious on affected birds. But it is just as deadly,” posted Brent Lodge on Facebook.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said they were ‘not aware of any oiled birds in the area and have not been informed and have no issues with any oil that they know of.’

Brent Lodge urged anyone who discovered birds covered in the substance to ‘approach with care,’ due to sharp beaks, and recommended bringing them in covered in a large blanket or towel. It also advised not to attempt to wash birds, as this can cause them to become aggravated – causing stress can sometimes lead to the death of the bird.

The guillemot has been given a thorough wash and is being kept warm in an incubator.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. It is always a worry when you find one because there are probably lots of others,” added Miss Pink.

“By the time we find them they have done what comes naturally, preened and ingested the substance, which can lead to serious issues like liver and organ failure.”

A Chichester District Council spokeswoman, said: “We’ve had no specific reports of oiled sea birds being found on our foreshores by members of the public, however we will be vigilant.

“If you find any affected birds, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. If any dead oiled sea birds are found stay clear of them and report them to our foreshores team or if you are at West Wittering beach please contact West Wittering Estate and Cakeham Manor.”