English seabirds’ news

This video from England is called The Life of Gannets, RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

From the RSPB in Britain:

Bempton Cliffs bucks seabird trend – but puffin numbers fall

Last modified: 24 September 2008

Spectacular changes in the populations of seabirds breeding at RSPB Bempton Cliffs have highlighted the international importance of the Yorkshire coast for marine wildlife.

At a time when seabird populations have collapsed elsewhere, dramatic increases in gannets and guillemots identified during this year’s census of the birds nesting at RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head have put the area into the top seabird sites in the UK.

But among the good news about the health of some of the famous seabirds is the bad news that numbers of puffins are declining – a stark reminder of the ever-increasing need to better safeguard our seabirds.

A full census of the cliffs during this year’s breeding season has revealed that more than 200,000 birds were at Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head.

Gannets on the up

The RSPB’s Keith Clarkson, who has led the colony count, said: ‘RSPB Bempton Cliffs is home to England’s only mainland gannet colony and the growth in numbers of this awesome bird over the last 40 years has been phenomenal. There were only 20 pairs here in 1988. Now, just 20 years later, there are a staggering 6,000 pairs – with a further 2,500 youngsters trying to establish nesting sites.’

Keith went on: ‘This success story is mirrored by the guillemots on the reserve. They have increased by 25% since the last full colony count in 2000. This year, nearly 60,000 birds were counted on the cliffs, making RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head the third largest colony in the UK.

These changes, with winners and losers, highlight the complexity of issues affecting our seabirds

‘The success of the guillemots is even more important when taken against the background of the equally spectacular declines in numbers reported from their traditional strongholds in northern Scotland. This demonstrates the increasing importance of Bempton Cliffs in particular, and the North Sea in general, for these birds. It also illustrates how important it is for us to ensure the highest level of protection for these birds when they leave the protection of Bempton and head off out to sea,’ said Keith.

However, it’s not all good news.

Disappointing year for puffins

‘Perhaps the most worrying statistic to come out of this survey is what’s happening to our puffins,’ said Keith. ‘Everyone loves puffins, whether it’s birdwatchers or the thousands of tourists who flock to Bempton every year in the hope catching a glimpse of these brilliant little birds.

Sadly, they appear to have declined by around two thirds across the whole colony. Puffins are notoriously difficult to count because they nest in burrows, cracks and crevices, so this figure can only be a rough guide to what’s happening. But it does mirror similar declines on the Isle of May and the Farne Islands, in Northumberland, raising serious concerns about the future of these iconic little birds.’

RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head still supports the largest kittiwake colony in the UK, with nearly 38,000 pairs nesting on the cliffs this year. However, the 13% recorded decline since 2000 comes at a time when breeding populations of this species are under threat across the UK, providing a worrying reminder of the work that still needs to be done to safeguard the future of these birds.

The Bad old Days: The Egg Harvest: Egg collectors at Flamborough in 1908: here.

Dire year for kittiwakes, Arctic terns and Arctic Skuas in UK: here.

Gannets like to keep ahead of the neighbours at Bempton Cliffs: here.

Farne islands birds in 2008: here. And here.

BTO bird ringers on an expedition to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland have found the two oldest Puffins in Britain. One of these OAPs (Old Age Puffins), at 34 years of age, is also the oldest currently known in Europe: here.

Scottish seabirds: here.

Best breeding year for Scotland’s sea birds for a decade: here.

July 2010. Cutting edge technology is shedding light on the daily flight paths of puffins around the Farne Islands and providing clues that could be vital to the seabirds’ survival: here.

Scotland’s baby gannet (guga) hunters “barbaric and inhumane”: here.

Kittiwakes’ trans-Atlantic winter odyssey linked to breeding success: here.

South American fishermen help to save seabirds: here.

2 thoughts on “English seabirds’ news

  1. Puffin, 34, found in Scottish isle bird colony

    Ornithologists believe it is the oldest in Europe

    Published: 18/07/2009

    GETTING UP CLOSE: Bird ringer Kate Thompson at work on a puffin in the Shiants

    Europe’s oldest puffin is alive and well and living in Scotland.

    Bird ringers working for the British Trust for Ornithology were on an expedition to the Shiant Isles in the Minch when they rediscovered the 34-year-old bird. It was originally ringed on June 28, 1975.

    They also found a puffin which was originally tagged on June 27, 1977, by Ian Buxton, a member of this year’s team.

    The previous record for the oldest puffin in Europe was set by a 33-year-old Icelandic bird.

    David Steventon, founder of the Shiants Auk Ringing Group and a member of the original expeditions in the 1970s, said: “These longevity records were almost inevitable, as ringing data shows that adult survival rates are about 92%. Therefore we would expect that about 25 of the 441 birds ringed in 1975 will still be alive and could be recaught in 2009.”

    Mark Grantham, a research ecologist with the trust, added: “These two record-breakers show that, to understand these birds, you can’t just pop in and out of colonies.

    “We need to study them over many decades to know what’s going on.”

    The Shiant Isles are a small group of islands between the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland.

    Both the birds were caught in the puffin colony on the north slope of Rough Island (Garbh Eilean) earlier this month.


  2. Pingback: Anna’s hummingbird ‘faster than planes’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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