GOWER, Wales – A Welsh animal lover was blinded in one eye after a seabird he tried to rescue pecked his eyeball out of its socket.
Michael Buckland, 38, was walking with his girlfriend on a beach in Gower, South Wales, when the couple spotted a gannet that seemed unable to walk or fly, the Western Mail reported Tuesday.
Buckland lifted the animal away from the incoming tide, but it was startled by a passing dog and began pecking at his face -- piercing his right eyeball three times with its razor-sharp six-inch beak.
The welder's left eyelid was sliced in two and his right eye dangled from his face following the attack. Drenched in blood, he then had to walk back along the beach for 45 minutes before he and his girlfriend could reach help.
Buckland said, "I put my right hand to my face and I felt there was a big hole where my eye was meant to be. My eye was hanging out and I had to put it back in on the beach. I didn't feel it was there, until I felt it at the side."
A specialist surgeon threaded 11 stitches across Buckland's right eyeball and the movement of his eye was saved -- but medical staff were unable to save his sight.
He was permanently scarred across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose.
"All I can see through my bad eye now is a bright light -- I can see bright colors and bright lights, but that's it," he added. "If I go outside now, it feels like a needle is going through it."
A spokesman from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said, "This is an extremely rare, one-off event. If it is absolutely necessary to handle a wild animal, you should do so with extreme caution."
He added, "We would recommend that if you see an injured animal, you report it to the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]."