Seabirds flying high in Scotland

It's been the most successful breeding season for a decade on the west coast of Scotland

Puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and shags have enjoyed their most successful breeding season for a decade on the west coast of Scotland. Studies carried out on the National Trust for Scotland’s shoreline properties have revealed that 1,642 pairs of kittiwakes tried to nest at Mingulay—an increase of 46% on last year— and that their breeding success, at 88 chicks per 100 pairs, was much better than that achieved in 2013.

‘After several years of bad news, it’s encouraging to be able to report that several species have had their best season in 10 years,’ says the Trust’s Dr Richard Luxmoore. ‘Although this may only prove to be a blip in a long-term decline, it provides a great boost to colony sizes whose effects should be evident for several years to come.’ Encouragingly, surveys of colonies on Canna, in the Small Isles, confirmed that kittiwakes are on the increase there, too, along with improved numbers of guillemots and razorbills.

‘It was great to see the colonies so full and so noisy this summer. Although we’re unlikely to see a return to the peak numbers of the 1980s and 1990s, I’m hopeful that the declines may have stopped and, for some species, even reversed,’ adds Bob Swann of the Highland Ringing Group, which has been running seabird studies on Canna—where an introduced population of brown rats was eradicated in 2006—for more than 40 years.

Similarly, puffins are also doing well on St Kilda, a World Heritage Site west of the Outer Hebrides that’s managed by the Trust.

** This article was first published on August 27 2014 in Country Life magazine

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