Good Samaritans get the bird

Joseph Bulmer

Prompt action saves trapped seagull from the estuary in Bideford

TWO men who rescued a trapped seagull from the middle of the Torridge estuary as the tide threatened have been praised for their swift actions.

North Devon Animal Ambulance driver Diana Lewis was called to reports of a black backed gull entangled in a crab line and trapped on a mud flat in the middle of the river near Bideford Quay.

With the tide due to flood she feared the bird would drown but when she arrived she discovered Bideford man Alan Tee and his friend Richard Harrison from Westward Ho! had waded out onto the mud and begun to cut the bird free.

“They were absolutely plastered in mid but certainly without them the gull would have drowned very quickly,” said Diana.

“All credit to these two young men, they were very quick off the mark and very brave, with the tide racing in.

The alarm was raised by Cynthia Greaves, who enlisted the help of Richard and Alan when it became apparent the animal ambulance could not get there in time.

The gull, badly tangled in the thick crab line and with a hook in its leg, was taken to the NDAA special care unit at Pottington in Barnstaple and treated, before going on to RSPCA West Hatch where it is doing well.

Diana reminded people to make sure they contacted the relevant agency such as police, fire or coastguard to make them aware of what was happening before attempting any sort of action, especially water is concerned and if they lack local knowledge.

She said crab lines, frequently used by children, were a recurring problem in the summer with birds often becoming entangled.

She urged parents and children to make sure lines were taken home when finished with or disposed of safely to avoid untold suffering and a lingering death for birds or other wildlife.