Good British seabird news


This video from Britain says about itself:

7 June 2012

A documentary about Lundy Island. A place of peace and tranquillity, where a wealth of wildlife and stunning scenery attracts vistors from all around the world all year round……But with plans for a new offshore wind farm, named the Atlantic Array, the unique wildlife of Lundy could be in jeopardy.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Lundy bird populations soar after rats eradicated

Findings will give encouragement to a similar project due to get under way this autumn on two of the isles of Scilly

Steven Morris

Tuesday 30 July 2013

A project to eradicate rats from a rocky island off Devon has resulted in a tenfold increase in the population of an endangered burrowing seabird that nests there, conservationists have revealed.

Wildlife charities are delighted that the removal of rats from Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, has apparently led to a dramatic boost to the number of Manx shearwaters and other birds on the island.

A similar project costing £750,000 is due to get under way this autumn on two of the isles of Scilly, St Agnes and Gugh, to wipe out the descendants of brown rats that swam to shore from shipwrecks.

Survey teams from the RSPB who returned to Lundy 10 years after the launch of the seabird recovery project found that the number of breeding pairs of Manx shearwaters had leapt from 300 to 3,000. Puffin numbers had increased from just five birds to 80, while razorbills and shags had also made substantial gains.

Helen Booker, RSPB senior conservation officer in the south-west of England, said: “This is such an exciting result, better than we expected, and the rate of increase is an indication of just how important rat-free islands like Lundy are as breeding site for seabirds.”

David Bullock, head of nature conservation for the National Trust, which owns Lundy, said “Once the rats had gone from Lundy, the number of pairs of shearwaters went from hundreds to thousands in matter of a few years.”

He said such a rapid recovery must have been aided by birds from other colonies, probably including those on islands off the Pembrokeshire coast, settling to breed on Lundy.

The results will provide encouragement for a similar project on St Agnes and Gugh, 28 miles off the south-west tip of mainland Britain. Here an estimated 3,100 brown rats are blamed for preying on Scilly shearwaters as well as storm petrels, terns and the Scilly shrew, a rodent found only on the archipelago.

From this autumn, poison bait will be laid for the rats as part of a 25-year Isles of Scilly seabird recovery project, which is being run with cash from the National Lottery, the EU’s Life fund and other sources.

It follows a 25% fall in bird numbers in recent years. The project is deemed feasible because the islands are surrounded by deep water, and so it is thought unlikely once the rats there are removed that others will be able to repopulate it.

It is deemed particularly important because St Agnes and Gugh are close to the uninhabited island of Annet, which has significant colonies of seabirds.

Jaclyn Pearson, project manager for the Isles of Scilly recovery project, said it had the backing of the 75 residents of St Agnes, though some of the children had taken some convincing.

She said the bait stations were designed to be accessible only to rats, and a stock of the antidote had been ferried across in case a cat or dog got to the poison.

See also here.

The world’s biggest rat-killing campaign underway on South Georgia Island: here.

Good Scilly islands dolphin, shark news


Common dolphins seen of the Scillonian III - Photo credit Paul Semmens

From Wildlife Extra:

Record year for cetacean sightings off Scilly Isles ferry

Best year yet for marine wildlife sightings off the Scillonian!

November 2012. During the 2012 summer season, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have had a marine wildlife guide, Paul Semmens, onboard the Scillonian III. Paul is onboard at least once a week between April and the end of October 2012. He surveys the route from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, looking for the wonderful sharks, dolphins and whales that visit our Cornish waters, as well as showing the passengers these brilliant creatures.

As part of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s marine conservation programme, Living Seas, Paul has been recording wildlife spotted as part of an on-going survey of what occurs in Cornish and Scillonian waters.

During the 2012 season there was so much to see! 1554 animals were recorded, a record year so far. These records consisted of;

379 harbour porpoise
1064 common dolphin
19 bottlenose dolphin
23 Risso’s dolphin
19 Minke whale
2 unidentified cetacean species
3 leatherback turtle
24 basking shark
21 ocean sunfish

Paul says “During the 4 years that I have worked onboard, 2012 has been my best year yet. This was particularly special in a summer with very unsettled weather. There was a huge increase in harbour porpoises, a species that is not easy to spot in all but the calmest conditions. There has been a definite inshore movement of this species, as well common dolphins, probably in response to shoals of small bait fish. It was great to see leatherback turtles this year – they are huge beasts that can grow to seven foot long. It has been a record year in Cornish waters for this species with many sightings all around the coast. As we approached autumn we had regular sightings of Minke whales and Risso’s dolphins especially as we drew near the Isles of Scilly. I would like to thank the crew and Isles of Scilly Travel staff for their continuing support of this project as we continue to build up a substantial database on the distribution of marine megafauna. The Scillonian is a great platform from which to look for these exciting animals and it is unusual not to see dolphins or porpoises on a crossing.’

Jackie Hayman, of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company says, “The wildlife watching tips with Paul are always extremely popular so we are thrilled to be launching a series of sailings throughout 2013. It’s a great way to make the most of your time at sea during your journey to the Isles of Scilly and Paul always makes the trips informative. He is extremely knowledgeable and has a keen eye so you’re sure to spot some great wildlife on the trip. Make sure you book early so you don’t miss out.”

Long-eared bats back on Isles of Scilly


This is a video about Brown long-eared bats.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Scilly bats return after 40 years

WILDLIFE: A rare species of bat has been found breeding on the Isles of Scilly for the first time in 40 years.

A brown long-eared bat was found by University of Exeter biologist Dr Fiona Mathews and her team, a postgraduate student and the Wiltshire Bat Group.

The senior lecturer said they were “surprised and delighted” by the find of the pregnant female bat.

The team was studying the mystery of the annual disappearance of the large common pipistrelle colony on St Mary’s.

They found that the bats had moved to a new site.

More about this is here. And here.

Wing Hairs Turn Bats Into Aerial Aces: here.

July 2011. Five baby common pipistrelle bats, only a few weeks old and weighing just a few grams each, are being hand-reared by staff at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre near Taunton, Somerset: here.

The brown long-eared bat has been named Animal of the Year by Swiss environmental organisation Pro Natura: here.