Mixed News From Annet Bird Survey

bird survey 2013 annetThe latest survey of breeding seabirds on Annet gives some hope that populations are recovering, although it’s not all good news.

Dr Vik Heaney and her team of volunteers visited the uninhabited island on Friday.

And Jaclyn Pearson from the Seabird Recovery Project, which is now running the survey on behalf of the Wildlife Trust, says they were surprised to find the numbers of nesting shags and greater black backed gulls was up significantly since last year.

They measured over 300 nests from the two species.

But Jaclyn says herring gulls aren’t doing so well, with just two nests found. People think the birds are fine because they’re often seen on St Mary’s, but Jaclyn says they need to work out why their levels are falling.

The nests of around thirty pairs of   fulmars, a small gull-like bird, were also identified.

Jaclyn says there’s a huge amount going on in the environment at the moment, with fish stocks declining, climate change and unusual weather patterns.

And she says while they’re happy to see some species doing better than of late, others are causing concern.

Vik has been performing the surveys for a number of years and there’s data going back to the 1960s, which show some worrying trends.

One factor that seems important is the level of brown rats and Jaclyn says the number of birds that lay their eggs on the ground show how vulnerable they are to these rodents.

Luckily Annet appears from of them at the moment, in a large part because of the work of the Trust. And she says without the rat eradication work, which started earlier this year, the situation for ground nesters would be very precarious.

The project gives them that little bit more of a chance, she says.

Next stage for the team will be surveying Manx shearwaters by playing their call down burrow holes. If they call back then the burrow is taken.

And then later this year, they’ll measure storm petrels, which nest in the boulder beaches.