Manx Shearwater Chicks On St Agnes For First Time In Living Memory

A Manx Shearwater chick emerging from its burrow.

A Manx Shearwater chick emerging from its burrow.

Manx shearwater chicks have hatched for the first time in living memory on St Agnes. And organisers of the Seabird Recovery Project say it shows that the plan to eradicate rats, which will cost £900,00 over 25 years, is working.

The rare seabirds are only found on Lundy in the Bristol Channel and here in Scilly.

But rats have prevented successful breeding in the past. The rodents were well entrenched on the islands and are thought to have been introduced by a ship in 1752.

Workers spent last winter laying traps with chocolate bait. Now organiser Jaclyn Pearson says the work has paid off and the team has heard the news they’ve been waiting for.

Jaclyn says there appear to be around ten fat, healthy chicks getting ready to make their first migration to South America.

Shearwater chicks aren’t normally seen until late August or early September, because they remain in their burrows until they’re about 50 days old.

They can live to 55 years of age and the adults have been returning to their St Agnes burrows each year. But until this year, there has been no evidence of breeding.

Jaclyn says the newborns should be back in two to four years and hopefully they’ll breed too.

But she says while it is great news, it won’t lead to a population explosion. The birds only lay one egg and any growth in numbers will be slow and steady.

You can see videos of the first chicks emerging on the IoS Seabird Recovery Project website.



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