Scottish SPCA release oil rig owls back into wild

A SPATE of short-eared owls crash-landing on oil rigs in the North Sea has puzzled workers at Scotland’s principal animal rescue organisation.

The Scottish SPCA say six owls, believed to have taken off from Scandinavia, Russia or Iceland seeking a warmer place to overwinter, have landed on North Sea rigs in less than a month - which the charity describes as “an unusual” phenomenon.

After being rescued by rig workers, all of the birds were taken to the SSPCA’s national wildlife rescue centre in Fishcross, near Alloa.

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Five have already been re-released on the east coast of Scotland, north of Dundee.

They include an owl that made national headlines when it crashed on E.ON’s Huntington platform last month and was subsequently flown to the mainland with returning crew members.

National wildlife rescue centre manager Colin Seddon said: “”After this owl was rescued we took in a further five who were also found on North Sea oil rigs.

“There have been previous instances where birds have landed on rigs but to have this many owls in such a short space of time is unusual.

“These owls have quite likely flown over from Scandinavia, Russia or Iceland to spend the winter in Scotland.

“Most were merely exhausted, which could be due to high winds and stormy conditions.

“Some also had oil on them from the rigs which thankfully we were able to remove successfully.

“Of the six short eared owls, we have so far released five on the east coast north of Dundee.

“The remaining owl is currently in an aviary at our centre and will be returned to the wild shortly.”

Mr Seddon added: “”Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed wild animal should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”