British seabird news

This video from Britain is called Scilly’s seabirds – from daybreak to dusk.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scilly Isles become a rat-free zone to benefit seabirds

The nests of rare seabirds on Scilly will be better protected this year since the successful removal of two of the islands’ rat populations. The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project (IOSSRP) has not recorded a single rat on either St Agnes or Gugh in the past 20 weeks and everyone is cautiously hopeful that rare nesting seabirds will now be able to flourish free of predation from rats.

Following the world’s largest community-based rat eradication project, the aim is to keep St Agnes and Gugh ‘rat-free’ – a status that can only be officially declared two years after the last sign of rats. The UK is internationally important for seabirds, but many species are declining in numbers. Among the many challenges they face, the greatest land threat is predation of eggs and chicks by brown rats. Of the rich array of seabirds nesting in Scilly, the two that are likely to benefit from the project the most are the Manx shearwater and the storm petrel that nest in holes and burrows.

It was New Zealand island restoration specialists Wildlife Management International Limited (WMIL), that was contracted to carry out the key rat removal phase of the project over five months from November 2013 to March 2014. They were joined by more than 20 ‘Seabird Task Force Volunteers’ during the five month period, and all 85 islanders also assisted in the operation.

Now, the priority will be to prevent rats coming back and enable the seabirds populations to recover. So everyone arriving at the islands is asked to check their baggage for stowaways, and everyone is urged to ‘rat on a rat’, and report any rat sightings to the project team. Islanders will then inspect the area and set up surveillance and incursion response measures.

Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust Manager, Sarah Mason said: “This next phase of the project is now critical and we are pleased to be playing such an important part in what is a ground-breaking project for seabird conservation in the UK. Our work to keep the uninhabited islands rat-free continues, and we are pleased to say that Annet, the most important island for breeding seabirds is currently free of rats.”

Project Manager, Jaclyn Pearson said: “The seabirds are about to return, and already they have a brighter future. When visiting the islands you may see the permanent monitoring stations around the coast of St Agnes and Gugh. They are housing pieces of chocolate wax which is very attractive to rats. So if a rat does arrive on the islands they will gnaw on the chocolate wax, leaving teeth marks which can be detected. These monitoring stations will be checked by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust team, myself and islanders.

“If there is an incursion, which may also be evident through other rat signs such as droppings, or a sighting of a rat, the response will be to set up a 50m baiting grid in the immediate area.”

St Agnes councillor and community representative Richard McCarthy commented: “The winter rat removal work has gone brilliantly. Despite the dreadful weather Biz Bell of WMIL and her team, plus all the volunteers, marched round the islands checking the bait stations with a cheerful word for everyone and a smile on their faces under their bright orange hats. They’ve done their bit and we’re really sorry to see them go. Now it is over to us. Getting rid of the rats in such a short space of time has been a major triumph. But keeping St Agnes and Gugh rat-free is going to present a considerable challenge for the project team, the Wildlife Trust and islanders at large in the weeks and months ahead.”

Also from Wildlife Extra:

Sound recording to entice puffins back to Ramsey

It is hoped playing a recording of a puffin call on Ramsey Island off the Welsh coast will help entice the puffins back there to breed. To aid their temptation to land on the island there are also a number of decoy puffins.

Puffins fled Ramsey in the 1800s when rats began to arrive in large numbers from shipwrecks. The rats were finally got rid of 14 years ago but since then the RSPB have not been able to entice the birds back.

Although the system was trilled for four weeks last year without success, birds were recorded as making landfall on low tide rocks below the speaker and on one memorable occasion eight birds landed on the cliff tops among the decoys. With the device out for a full season this year it is hoped that this time the birds will like what they see when they land and stay and breed.

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6 thoughts on “British seabird news

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