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Woman finds giant seabird in her garden

PUBLISHED: 12:32 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:09 05 June 2020

The gannet Dawn Austin found in her garden in King's Lynn  Picture: Dawn Austin

The gannet Dawn Austin found in her garden in King's Lynn Picture: Dawn Austin

Archant

A woman was stunned when she found a gannet in her garden.

The gannet Dawn Austin found in her garden in King's Lynn  Picture: Dawn AustinThe gannet Dawn Austin found in her garden in King's Lynn Picture: Dawn Austin

Teaching assistant Dawn Austin from North Wootton, King’s Lynn, found the giant seabird perched on her 10-year-old son Roan’s trampoline.

The bird did not appear in distress and so she headed off to work for the day, only to discover the bird at the bottom of the garden when she returned.

Miss Austin, 48, spoke to an independent vet who suggested she catch the bird if it was safe to do so and take it to the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre.

“I had gone to let my dog out in the morning and when I looked out in the garden I saw this huge bird sitting on the trampoline just staring at me,” she said. “I quickly ushered the dog back inside. The bird didn’t look injured or distressed so I presumed it would just fly off.

The gannet at the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Centre  Picture: RSPCAThe gannet at the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Centre Picture: RSPCA

“But when I came home he was still there - but this time sitting in the sunshine at the bottom of the garden. I spoke to our vet and they suggested bringing it in for a check up. I managed to use a towel to catch him - avoiding his large beak - and put him in our dog carrier. He just sat there resting and was very calm.

“While I was driving handsfree on the phone on the way to the vets - he sat there nodding his head almost like he was listening, the vets suggested I take him to East Winch which I did. I’m glad I was able to help him and me and Roan hope he will pull through.”

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RSPCA centre manager Alison Charles said: “As with lots of wildlife we never know why they sometimes get into difficulty and end up needing our help.

The gannet at the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Centre  Picture: RSPCAThe gannet at the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Centre Picture: RSPCA

“We suspect that he was blown off course - but we do not know why, he is very weak, and our vets who examined him couldn’t see any obvious injuries on him. He’s not feeding by himself which is a concern so at the moment we are feeding him three times a day, but we hope that being in a quiet space and having a chance to rest and recover that he will find the strength to pull through. It’s very hard to know at this early stage - but we are doing what we can to help him.

“We are grateful to Dawn for all she did for this gannet, but we would not recommend people trying to handle or contain them themselves as they are such powerful birds and have very large beaks and we wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Gannets are the largest seabirds in the North Atlantic, with wingspans which can reach up to 6ft. They fly over the sea at heights of around 100ft while searching for fish and when they find a shoal they can dive from a height of 60ft at speeds of 60mph, in order to catch them.

If you see an animal in distress, contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.


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