Monday, 28 September 2009

On The Up!

Being grounded until at least Thursday this week (bring out the antidepressants) for reasons way beyond my control I had to fill in some time available to post an article on the excellent news that fears over the breeding failures of Scotland's seabird colonies have been somewhat calmed having had their most productive year in almost a decade. Having had a serious rat eradication campaign Ailsa Craig has reported an increase in Gannet pairs to 30,000, 50 pairs of Puffin have also established themselves here.
The struggle to have any chicks fledged by these seabird colonies in recent years is squarely pinned on the decline of the Sand Eel, and what birds did manage to hatch their chicks were attempting to feed them on the nourishment-poor Pipefish which resulted in very little fledging. Because of an apparent plentiful supply of Sand Eel the Arctic Tern at North Hill in Orkney fledged at least 220 chicks this year as opposed to the nightmare of 2008 when the colony produced not a solitary one. However, whilst the obvious optimism is high its a little short lived when you consider the colony could fledge over 1,000 birds in the peak of the 1980's, but optimism grows once more when you hear that Fowlsheugh in Aberdeenshire, Mull of Galloway, and Dumfries and Galloway have also had an increase in their cliff-nesting species.

We keep having to return to the fact that several species are still severely depleted, but Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake have all managed better breeding success this year. The reasons behind this turnaround are as yet unknown but could be the result of changes in sea surface temperature in late winter/early spring bringing about a much improved production of the Sand Eel. I don't think Birds2blog is the place to address political issues but there's a serious decline still indicated by long term trends and there is an underlying importance of controlling over-fishing, pollution, development and industry, and Britain's rich undersea wildlife is still in serious need of protection and lots of it.

The photographs in the post are all credited to David Cookson who - along with many other excellent photographers work I greatly admire - I appreciate allowing me to use them......Thanks David.


Warren Baker said...

well said! Lets hope the good trends continue

Pete Woodruff said...

Some good news but a long haul yet.

Thanks for comment Warren.