Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bird on a wire! Rescuers save gannet dangling 300ft off sheer cliffs by fishing line


The gannet is stuck 100feet down the 400foot cliff face, trapped by a fishing wire which is wrapped around its beak. It was later rescued by the RSPCA

Rescuers risked their lives to save a bird dangling helplessly 300ft up sheer cliffs.
The gannet was spotted with a fishing line wrapped around its beak and was stranded next to the chalk cliff face with no way of escaping.

But a specialist RSPCA team carried out a daring four-hour rescue operation – one of the most dramatic and dangerous of its kind ever attempted in the UK.

Ignoring their own personal safety, the three-man abseiling team managed to reach the bird, tangled up in a fishing line around 100ft from the top and at an overhanging section of the cliff that was difficult to reach.

A rescuer lowers himself down the sheer cliff face to get to the trapped bird at the Bempton Cliffs nature reserve near Flamborough Head on the East Yorkshire coast. The whole operation took four hours

One of the rescuers managed to put the flapping bird into a special bag before carrying it back up to safety.

After being checked by a vet, the gannet was later released back into the wild, apparently none the worse for its ordeal.

The operation took place in fading light last Wednesday evening at the Bempton Cliffs nature reserve near Flamborough Head on the East Yorkshire coast.

The dramatic cliffs are home to 200,000 birds during the summer months and large numbers of birdwatchers flock there to observe the wildlife.

The RSPB, who run the nature reserve, called in the RSPCA when the bird was spotted dangling part way down the cliff face.

Geoff Edmond, the RSPCA’s wildlife co-ordinator, said: ‘The bird was dangling on the end of about a 100ft length of string from its nest site on the cliff ledge.

‘We could not determine if the line was attached to its beak or neck, but it was obviously distressed and in a life-threatening position.

‘It could not have been in a worse place at the highest point of the cliffs, and rescuing it was going to be almost impossible.

‘The only way it could be reached was for somebody to go down the cliff face, but that was fraught with danger because of the overhang.’

The specialist abseil team arrived from its base in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne at 6.40pm and decided it was safe to go down.

Team leader Trevor Walker said: ‘We decided two of us would go down to approach the bird from either side because it could not be seen directly from above because of the overhang.

‘Geoff had to position himself further along the cliff top, from where the bird could be seen, and guide us in by radio.

‘There were a lot of safety issues, but thankfully we managed to reach the stricken bird at about 10pm, cut it free, and take it to the cliff top in a special bag.’

The nylon string, used in fishing, had been attached to the lower part of the bird’s beak for ten hours, but it did not appear to be seriously injured.

Mr Edmond added: ‘I have been an RSPCA inspector for over 20 years, and it must be the hardest rescue that I have ever co-ordinated.

The animal welfare team later released the gannet back into the wild after the protracted rescue mission

‘Despite the almost impossible task of reaching the bird, there was also a great deal of pressure and emotion involved.

‘There was so much relief all round when the gannet was finally brought to safety and it just shows how worthwhile it is to develop specialist rescue teams.

'We can’t choose which animal or bird needs rescuing, but we will always pull out all the stops to try to make it successful.’

During the winter anglers dangle lines from the cliff top to fish and one of these is believed to have somehow became entangled around the bird’s head.

Ian Kendall, manager of the Bempton Cliffs reserve, praised the rescuers. He said: ‘It is brilliant the team were able to save the bird because it is something we couldn’t have done ourselves. They have also probably saved the life of the chick that it is still feeding.’

source :dailymail

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