Birds fall foul to rough seas

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Scores of dead seabirds - including up to 100 puffins - have washed up on Scarborough’s beaches following rough seas and strong easterly winds.

The puffin “wreck”, as it is known, is thought to be the worst its kind in half a century and is thought to have affected hundreds of birds as far north as Aberdeenshire.

The RSPB has received many reports of puffins, as well as razorbills and guillemots washing up on beaches on the Yorkshire coast.

The conservation charity believes severe weather may have led to birds struggling to find food or succumbing to exhaustion, although the exact causes are currently unknown.

Keith Clarkson, site manager at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, said: “Most of the birds we’ve picked up have been emaciated with breastbone like a razor.

“What we think has happened is that they’re been unable to get back to the cliff and have been gathering in colonies offshore. The seas have been grim and the birds have become exhausted and starving.”

He added that birds were only starting to return yesterday to Bempton Cliffs for the start of the breeding season, but that many looked in poor condition.

The images shown here were passed to The Scarborough News by Roy Bince, who found around 20 dead seabirds at Hayburn Wyke.

Mr Bince said the scene was “shocking” and that there was also a lot of rubbish on the beach, which had washed up with the birds.

A spokesperson for Scarborough Council said: “We’d like to thank Mr Bince for bringing this to our attention.

“This morning we have recovered approximately 15 dead birds from Hayburn Wyke and have received further reports of more dead seabirds being washed up on the tide in the North Bay, near the Sealife Centre.

“The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds believes severe weather may have led to birds struggling to find food or succumbing to exhaustion – from our investigations there is no suggestion the cause of death is related to oil or oil ingestion.

“We will be checking the beaches for further bird fatalities after the next high tide.”