Submitted by Steve on 15:46, 14th Nov, 2017 | 0

On the 23rd September 2017 ‘Mist’ an adolescent gannet was rescued from Lihou very unwell and weak and brought to the GSPCA Animal Shelter by Volunteer Warden Suzy Rose.

For the first few weeks the bird was under the supervision of our vet and care of the GSPCA team in our intensive care room for large sea birds and seal pups.

Mist responded extremely well to treatment and enjoyed a lot of fish each day.

As Mist grew stronger the bird was allowed outside on one of the GSPCA rehabilitation pools.

Last week Mist was deemed fit for release so look bird ringer Chris Mourant kindly put an identification ring on Mists leg.

Putting ID rings are a great way to know how the animals cared for at the GSPCA do after their release if they are spotted and we have had cases of animals and birds being reported many years after being in our care.

Last Thursday GSPCA staff member Kevin Beausire took Mist along to the coast to release the gannet back to the wild.

Yvonne Chauvel Senior Animal Care Assistant said “We care for at least a few gannets each year and although sadly we do have some that are so weak or injured we are unable to help them Mist was one of the lucky ones.”

“This time of year with all of the rough weather and shorter days we do see an increase in sick and injured sea birds and with seal pups being born it is coming and we are asking those around the coast to be mindful when along our shores.”

Kevin Beausire GSPCA staff member said “It is always nice to see the wild birds being released.”

“Often they are straight off but Mist the gannet decided to hang about for a little bit before heading out to sea.”

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said “With over a 1000 sick and injured birds through our doors every year we always have a huge array of species in our care but only a few gannets who are often extremely weak or even caught in fishing waste or plastic rubbish.”

“Mist was one of the few lucky gannets to be saved and now back in the wild and we would like to thank Chris for putting an ID ring on the bird with the hope that in years to come we might just hear of Mists adventures and with a life span of possibly 35 years who knows when that could be.”

“If you find a sick or injured animal or bird you can ring us 24/7 on 257261 but be careful approaching big birds like gannets as they often try and peck your eyes so please give us a call if your concerned.”

“24/7 we have someone on site and a member of the team in an ambulance to help care for the thousands of animals that come through the doors and care for 500+ animals at the GSPCA.”

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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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