Vital seabird census work restarts

RSPB Scotland is beginning vital survey work for an important national census on seabirds over the coming days.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 11:22 am
Black guillemot Cepphus grylle, pair showing typical courtship display

Two locally-based fieldworkers will be undertaking this work in Dumfries and Galloway, with other local staff and volunteers also contributing.

The census, Seabirds Count, is the fourth of its kind following on from Operation Seafarer in 1969-70, the Seabird Colony Register Census in 1985-88 and Seabird 2000.

It is led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and aims to make an accurate count of 25 species of seabirds – an estimated eight million birds – across more than 10,000 sites in Britain and Ireland.

The survey data helps conservation scientists understand how seabird populations are changing over time and support efforts to protect them.

This latest census was begun in 2015, with many dedicated volunteers and specialist surveyors taking part, and due to be completed last year but the Covid-19 pandemic led to the postponement of the last year of

survey work.

These delayed surveys are now able to begin in a Covid-19 secu re mann er, running until to July of this year.

Surveys will begin with black guillemots, also known as tysties, which are best counted during early mornings in late March and April when they perform group courtship displays on the sea next to breeding sites.

Later in the season, seabirds such as fulmars, shags, auks and gulls will be counted at sites not already surveyed.