Seabird battered by storm takes refuge on Portsmouth ferry

Bert, a Sooty Shearwater, ended up on Brittany Ferries' Cap Finist�re as it headed from Spain to Portsmouth after being battered by Storm Aileen. Picture: Brittany Ferries
Bert, a Sooty Shearwater, ended up on Brittany Ferries' Cap Finist�re as it headed from Spain to Portsmouth after being battered by Storm Aileen. Picture: Brittany Ferries
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PASSENGERS sailing towards Portsmouth on a ferry were surprised to be joined by a bedraggled stowaway on deck.

As Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistère steamed through the Bay of Biscay from Bilbao, Spain, a seabird was blown aboard by Storm Aileen.

Bert, a Sooty Shearwater, ended up on Brittany Ferries' Cap Finist�re as it headed from Spain to Portsmouth after being battered by Storm Aileen. Picture: Brittany Ferries

Bert, a Sooty Shearwater, ended up on Brittany Ferries' Cap Finist�re as it headed from Spain to Portsmouth after being battered by Storm Aileen. Picture: Brittany Ferries

The bird was soaked, tired and unable to take off again.

Fortunately the ship’s team of wildlife officers from whale and dolphin charity Orca were on hand to assist the animal, which they identified as a Sooty Shearwater.

The team contacted Orca’s Portsmouth head office and, after speaking to a specialist, took the bird - which they named Bert after the chimney sweep in - into a warm cabin.

They carefully placed him into a covered cardboard box to keep him calm and give him a chance to dry out and preen his feathers.

Hazel Pittwood, one of the team who cared for Bert, said: ‘We were worried to see the condition of the bird after such a rough storm. We became fond of him during his brief stay with us. But it was such a relief when we released him back into the wild.’

Once the ship had arrived in Portsmouth and headed back into the English Channel towards Spain, Bert was dry and strong enough to release.

Sooty Shearwaters are not able to take off from the ground unassisted and typically wait on clifftops for a strong gust of wind where they spread their wings and leap into the skies. The Orca team replicated this by taking the bird to the top deck and throwing it high into the air.