Seabird Monitoring Overview 2018

The Isles of Scilly support an internationally important seabird assemblage and are protected by a number of important conservation designations as a result. The last full survey of all seabirds across the islands in 2015/16 confirmed it as the most significant seabird colony in southwest England both in terms of numbers and diversity

Scilly’s seabird breeding records comprise one of the best long term ecological data sets we have for the islands. Regular all-island counts have been completed since 1970 as well as annual records for breeding numbers on Annet since 2006 and for St Agnes and Gugh since 2012. Guided by the jointly developed Isles of Scilly Seabird Strategy the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have been working in partnership with Natural England, the RSPB and the Isles of Scilly Bird Group over many years to maintain these valuable data sets. The data collected in Scilly also contributes to national seabird records and allows comparison between different regional populations.

This summer the Trust have employed Vickie Heaney as Seabird Ecologist to continue this important work and monitor in more detail the numbers and productivity for various of our islands’ seabird species including terns, kittiwakes and gulls. She will also be monitoring the continued fortunes of the Manx shearwaters and storm petrels on St. Agnes and Gugh as part of the Legacy Phase of the successful Seabird Recovery Project. We will share pictures and updates about this work through the summer on our twitter and Facebook accounts as well as sharing the final report here.

Birds are widely accepted as excellent indicators of environmental health; their changing populations often providing clues to the overall health of their habitat. Sadly we have recorded alarming declines in many of our seabird populations over recent years, showing that there is a clear need to take action. The information that the Trust will gather on our seabirds this summer will not only contribute to long-term data sets, but also inform our habitat management plans and wider marine protection work in future.

As part of the Trusts wider marine campaign there will be lots of marine themed walks and events helping to raise awareness of the issues affecting our seabirds as well as our weekly Seabird Safaris to join. The Trust have also formed a Marine Protected Area working group of local marine operators on Scilly and organised WiSe (Wildlife Safe) training to encourage marine users to operate at a safe distance from seabirds and other marine life.

The Ranger Team continue to carry out programmes of winter land management work, much of which is for the benefit of breeding seabirds. And not forgetting Plastic Free Scilly, a community initiative to reduce the use of plastics in Scilly, which benefits our seabirds by reducing the amount of plastic debris available for them to ingest.