Storms blow exhausted little auks far from home

Hundreds of the small birds have been reported by members of the public along the Scottish east coast.

In the breeding season little auks can be found in Greenland and Iceland, but it is very unusual to see them in Scotland at any time. © Paula Jones/iStock
In the breeding season little auks can be found in Greenland and Iceland, but it is very unusual to see them in Scotland at any time. © Paula Jones/iStock

The Scottish SPCA reports that it has taken in more than 100 lost little auks that have been blown onto the Scottish mainland following the recent bad weather created by storms Eva and Frank.

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Calls have been coming in from members of the public who have found distressed birds in other east coast locations that have exhausted themselves battling the high winds.

Little auks, which usually spend the winter far out in the North Sea and only come to land to breed, have even been found in parks in the Falkirk area.

“Little auks breed in the high Arctic areas such as Greenland and Iceland, so it is unusual to see them up close,” says Colin Seddon, manager of the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross, where the birds are being cared for prior to be released back to the wild.

 “It is not uncommon for little auks to be found in the North Sea over winter,” says Seddon, “but they have been blown off course during the recent storms and are landing in areas up and down the county, predominately along the east coast.

“The little auks we have rescued were found weak and thin and would have had great difficulty taking off once grounded.

“If anyone comes across one of these birds they should call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.”

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Read more wildlife news in BBC Wildlife Magazine.