Concern for wildlife after savage storms batter Dorset coast

DISTRESSED: Rescued Fulmar from Chesil Beach waits to be collected from the office at Chesil. Picture by Angela Thomas

DISTRESSED: Rescued Fulmar from Chesil Beach waits to be collected from the office at Chesil. Picture by Angela Thomas

First published in News
Last updated

DISTRESSED seabirds have been washed up on Dorset beaches after fierce storms.

Dorset Wildlife Trust says it is concerned how wildlife is being affected by the severe winds, rain and high tides that have battered the coastline.

After braving strong winds and enormous waves, exhausted and distressed seabirds such as the razorbill, fulmar and shag have been found stranded on Chesil Beach and at Kimmeridge.

There is also concern birds will get entangled in piles of litter that have been washed up.

DWT’s Marine Awareness Officer Julie Hatcher said: “The weather conditions will make it hard for birds that live and feed around the coast, and there’s a risk they could become weak from not being able to feed properly. The biggest concern is that seabirds will become dehydrated, as their intake of water comes from the food they eat. We are encouraging members of the public who come across an injured bird to phone the RSPCA for assistance.”

There is also concern that the storms are washing up huge amounts of litter.

Marc Smith, Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre officer said: “Litter such as plastic bags, drinks cans and glass can be deadly to wildlife.

“The waves have been coming over the top of the pebble bank at Chesil Beach, and whilst some of the litter churned up will go back into the sea, Chesil Beach is 18 miles long, which is potentially a lot of litter. Our main concern is for animals getting entangled in plastic or ingesting litter.”

Persistent rain has also caused rivers such as the Frome and Stour to burst their banks, which will have mixed results for wildlife.

DWT’s Dorset Wild Rivers Project Coordinator Sarah Williams said: “High flowing rivers will allow migratory species such as salmon to swim further up the river to breed, which will mean good news for breeding numbers, as long as the their nests do not get damaged by the flows. Wildfowl and wading birds will also enjoy feeding on larger wetland areas, where they will find fish and invertebrates near the surface.

"Wildlife needs space to move away from the flood and natural floodplains do provide some relief but it is particularly important for water voles to be able to move away from the main flood water. The population of water voles this year will indicate how badly this flooding has affected them.”

Dorset Wildlife Trust advises the public not to approach birds and litter along the coastline unless it is safe to do so.

For more information about DWT’s beach clean events visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

To report an injured or distressed animal contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

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