Results from a mammoth survey of almost 15,000 seabird colonies is published today, following seven years of fieldwork by more than 850 people. It’s an amazing feat to survey millions of birds on the remotest islands and islets across Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, which are collectively of international importance for many species. It would have made for grim reading even before bird ‘flu hit several species in the years since fieldwork finished, as it shows that 11 of 21 species have declined and populations of only four have increased by more than a few per cent.
Climate change, predation and depleted fish stocks have all played a part, with declines most acute in Scotland, the most important part of the archipelago for seabirds. The results for Wales also show serious declines for species such as Cormorant, Kittiwake, Shag and Fulmar.
Wales now holds a greater share of the UK’s Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins, and especially Little Terns and Arctic Terns, which have benefited from intensive conservation efforts in North Wales. However, some of Wales’ increased importance may result from crashes elsewhere in the UK, and the small number of colonies here highlights that their eggs are in a few vulnerable baskets. I look forward to diving into the book Seabirds Count and, given the significance of its contents, I’m sure this is a topic to which I will return…
This week’s bird sightings include nine Cattle Egrets and a couple of Water Pipits at RSPB Cors Ddyga, Hawfinches around Llanrwst church and a Yellow-browed Warbler that made a short stop at Rhyl’s Brickfield Pond. Over-running summer migrants were a Hoopoe at Rhoshirwaun, Ring Ouzel with Fieldfares near Bryn y Maen and Arctic Tern off Moelfre. Long-tailed Ducks are on Llyn Maelog and off Benllech, and Slavonian Grebes on the Inland Sea and Menai Strait. Black Redstarts were spotted in Bangor and Porthmadog, and Snow Buntings at Holyhead, South Stack, Great Orme and Point Lynas.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.