Sunshine’s horrific ordeal, anger after poor gull is attacked

By Tilly Walder Jun 21, 2024
pics: Skipper’s Sanctuary Facebook page

A wild bird has undergone a traumatic ordeal this week, and had to be taken to an Island vet after being deliberately painted with suspected yellow road paint. The adult black-headed gull’s black ‘mask,’ legs, and feet were left untouched, with his beak, body and eyes meticulously lined in yellow, highlighting the deliberate malice of the culprit.

Aside from possibly ingesting paint, his feathers are now in terrible conditions, and will be damaged further by the paint and washing needed. He will no longer be waterproofed, and will likely need a full moult before being released. These small gulls have delicate feet and are very susceptible to foot problems if unable to fly for a time. The gull, now nicknamed Sunshine, has an uncertain future, and it’s possible he has a mate and chicks waiting for his return.

The inhumane act is also a crime under the Wildlife & Countryside Act and has been reported to the authorities. Sunshine is now looking somewhat less yellow after a “traumatic but necessary” wash. A spokesman from Wootton Bridge-based bird charity, Skippers Sanctuary, said: “What a resilient little bird, despite the trauma of being caught, held down and painted and then held to be washed. He is in relatively high spirits, all things considered. Now we just have to get the remaining colour out of his feathers and get him flying again!”

The story, published on the charity’s Facebook page, has generated anger at the perpetrator, who many think should be ‘named and shamed’.

Skippers has confirmed the offence wasn’t committed by anyone within Island Roads, as commentators were suggesting, and that steps are being taken to identify the person responsible.