Birds covered in oil have been found on Sussex beaches, sparking concerns for wildlife.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) has looked after several guillemots, cliff-dwelling seabirds, which have been found on the coastline in recent days, including on Seaford beach.

They are deep sea birds and generally only come to shore when nesting.

 “We wouldn’t expect them to be sitting on our beaches," said Trevor Weeks, the founder of WRAS.

“We are not convinced that it is necessarily the same type of oil, with some covered in thick black sticky crude like oil and others in more of a dirty engine or cooking oil."

The charity's care team has been treating the birds. 

Mr Weeks said: “We have been cleaning them once they have settled in. The cleaning process is not as simple as washing them down and they have to be treated for any ingested oil.

"If anyone finds one please do not just take it home and assume you can clean and treat it yourself. They are likely to need veterinary medication so please contact us or the RSPCA.”

The charity is urging people to call for help if they spot birds covered in oil.

If anyone finds an oil-covered bird on the beach they are asked not to approach it directly to avoid it running back into the sea.

Instead attempt to get between the bird and the water's edge if safe to do so, cutting off its escape route.

Mr Weeks said: "Please ensure you call a rescue organisation before you even approach."

The WRAS is also urging people to keep dogs on leads or under close control.

Mr Weeks added: “When I first started in the mid 1980s we used to get hundred of these birds washing ashore every winter, now our seas are much cleaner of oil, but spillages do occur.

"Containers on small vessels wash overboard in rough weather by accident but there are also sunken WW2 vessels which occasionally leak oil. We don’t know where this oil has come from."